This past July, three members of the Westfield community traveled to Europe with the American Music Abroad, or AMA, Empire Tour band and chorus.
The 149-member group visited France, Luxembourg, Austria, Germany and Switzerland during the 16-day tour and performed at 10 different venues. Westfield was represented by Pauline Emilson, who played French horn in the band, Karin Cockram, who sang alto in the choir, and Iain Cockram, who played tuba in the band and sang tenor in the choir. After four days of rehearsals at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania and a farewell concert for family and friends, the ensembles departed for Switzerland on Friday, July 13.
The first four and a half days were spent traveling around France. The group visited Caen, Bayeux, Omaha Beach, Pont du Hoc and Paris. It then traveled by coach to Luxembourg, where it participated in the annual Luxembourg/American Friendship festival.
Iain Cockram, Karin Cockram and Pauline Emilson were three members of the Westfield community who traveled to Europe recently as part of the American Music Abroad Empire Tour band and chorus.
AMA spent the next two days in Germany in the towns of Trier, Bad Kreuznach and Heidelburg before returning to France for two more days. After spending time in the lovely villages of Strasbourg and Riquewihr and another couple of performances, the group returned to Germany in time to enjoy the closing performances of the Kinderzeche celebration.
More concerts, a stop in Munich and a sobering visit to Dachau concentration camp completed the time in Germany. Four days in Austria, with fun activities including a snowball fight in the Alps and a Tylorean Folklore evening as well as a walk through the Mirabell Gardens - seen in the movie "The Sound of Music" - the last concerts and the 2012 AMA Empire tour returned to Switzerland. After a visit to Innsbruck it was time to prepare for the flight back to the United States.
Some of the performance highlights of this tour were the memorial concert at Omaha Beach, singing in the cathedrals of Trier in Germany and Salzburg in Austria, participating in the annual Luxembourg/American Friendship festival and the final concert at Westendorf in Austria. The prayer service at Dachau, led by one of the Jewish families traveling with the group, was indescribably moving.
Selection into the AMA Empire tour is based on New York State School of Music, or NYSSMA, solo scores for high school students and teacher or professional recommendations for college students and adults. This was the 13th and final year for the Empire Tour as the director, Ron Sutherland, is retiring.