Arts & Entertainment

Westfield H.S. Band and Chorus Visit Europe Over Spring Break

The Westfield High School Choirs at the Sibelius Monument in Helsinki, Finland Credits: Sechrist Travel
WHS Band members play in Chamber Ensembles in Orvieto, Italy, over spring break. Credits: WHS Bands Friends, Family and Alumni Facebook page
Concert by Westfield High School Choirs at Temppeliauko Rock Church in Helsinki, Finland Finland Credits: Sechrist Travel
WHS choir directors John Brzozowski and Maureen Francis at a Viking-themed dinner in Finland Credits: Sechrist Travel
WHS Choirs rehearse for a concert in Riga, Latvia Credits: Maureen Francis

WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield High School Band and Chorus programs spent the district’s spring break touring and performing on separate European trips.

The band began their trip in Florence, Italy, on Tuesday, April 3, with a guided walking tour and welcome dinner, before a day trip to tour Venice on Wednesday. The band toured the Accademia Museum, home to Michaelangelo’s David statue, on Thursday morning. Later, they left for Lucca, where they performed an evening concert with the Filharmonia Giacomo Puccini at the San Francesco Church under the direction of Trevor Sindorf, Band Director at WHS.

Chris Vitale, director of bands at WHS, fell ill and was unable to go on the trip.

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“Everything seemed to go smoothly,” Ethan Jaffee, a junior at WHS, said. “Even though Mr. Vitale was sick and could not come, Mr. Sindorf and the rest of the staff did a great job making sure everything went as planned.”

The band departed from Florence on Friday morning, with a stop to tour Assisi, before arriving in the city of Orvieto. Students were able to enjoy walking tours of Orvieto on Saturday, with some students playing in chamber ensembles throughout the city. The full band was in concert at Palazzo del Capitano on Saturday evening.

The trip ended with a visit to Rome on Sunday, where students toured the city and spent the evening together at a performance of “Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci” at Teatro Opera di Roma. The band spent Monday morning in a conductor’s workshop with the Italian Army Band and enjoyed the rest of the day in Rome before returning to Westfield on Tuesday.

“Having the opportunity to travel to a foreign country with dozens of friends was an amazing experience,” WHS junior Ethan Useloff said. “It was incredible doing what we all enjoy in a European setting, thousands of miles away from Westfield. In addition, we had the pleasure of visiting numerous historical places. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience that we will all treasure forever.”

The Westfield Choral Department also arrived in Europe on Tuesday, April 3, beginning their trip in Helsinki, Finland, with choir directors John Brzozowski and Maureen Francis. They spent Wednesday morning touring the city before an evening concert at the Temppeliauko Rock Church, a venue built into solid rock. Thursday gave the students more time in the city of Helskinki, along with an outing to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Suomenlinna Sea Fortress.

The choir traveled via ferry on Friday to Tallinn, Estonia, where they attended a rehearsal of the Tallinn Philharmonic Chamber Choir and enjoyed a guided city tour. Students had time to explore the city on Saturday before an evening performance.

They left Tallinn on Sunday morning and spent the remainder of their time in Riga, Latvia. Students enjoyed a guided tour of Riga on Monday, ending with a joint performance with the Balsis Choir of Latvia, and a farewell dinner.

Because of a country-wide airline strike in Germany that affected their return flight, the choir and their chaperones had to extend their stay in Latvia by two days, returning home on Thursday, April 12. With the extension of their trip, they were able to visit the Riga Zoo and spend an afternoon performing for students at the International School of Riga.

“I thought this was a life-changing experience,” WHS junior Zack Lemberg said. “The cities we went to had such rich culture and beautiful sights to see. And all of the venues where we sang were amazing and had great acoustics. I’m so thankful that we were given the opportunity to go on this trip.”

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