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Sequim students take to the 'Old Continent'

 

Good thing this trio can carry a tune — to the tune of several thousand miles.

A trio of Sequim students — band members Ian Jones and Jason Galasso and choir member Sarah Stoffer — along with Sequim High School band director Vern Fosket, took a musical tour of European cities this June via the Washington Music Ambassadors program.

The tour included three-day stops in London; Paris; Crans Montana, Switzerland; and Seefeld, Austria; and a two-day stop in Rothenberg, Germany.

The ambassador program sends representatives from 43 different states traveling through Europe in two-year rotations. This year, Texas kicked off the Americans' tour on June 1 while Washington musicians made the trans-continental trek from July 5 to July 21.

Events included separate, predominantly outdoor, concerts for bands and choirs. The Washington choir singers also made a one-day visit to sing at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice.

"That was pretty amazing," Fosket said of the St. Mark's concert.
Fosket, who was a chaperone for nine students (three each from Sequim, Klahlaywa Secondary School and Central Kitsap High School) said the trip went well.

"We had an amazing trip; there weren't any issues," he said. 

"Most of (the performances) were pretty well attended," Fosket said, with about 200 or so for most concerts and more than 1,000 for events in Crans Montana.

Usually, Stoffer said, the choir would sing at a church in the morning while the band would play at a park or similar venue in the afternoon.

"I liked all of it, but I really like London," Stoffer said. "I've always been into history."

Galasso and Stoffer graduated from Sequim High School in June; Jones is a senior this fall. Fosket said he expects Galasso to continue playing music at Central Washington University while Stoffer is headed to Hawaii Pacific University. Stoffer said she plans to study elementary education but keep singing on the side.

Fosket said programs like these are a big benefit to those who can afford to make the trip. Students are selected by their directors but are not asked to audition.

"(They are) working with a lot of new people, learning the music, meeting people from around the state," he said. "It's a chance to see Europe, definitely beneficial."

Stoffer had an offer to participate with a different summer group but chose Washington Music Ambassadors because this tour stopped in London.

The tour also gave the group a chance to see Dachau concentration camp, about 10 miles northwest of Munich, Germany. 

"One day we're in Venice, it's beautiful, (and) the next day we're at a concentration camp," said Stoffer, who noted her grandfather was part of the liberating force that freed Dachau prisoners in April of 1945. 

"I'm glad I saw it; it was definitely eye-opening."

The students got a few chances to sight-see, particularly in Austria and Germany, and saw the play "Wicked" on stage in London. Stoffer said her seat was in the second row.

The tour included a bit of work for Fosket, too, as a lack of male singers forced tour organizers to have some of the chaperones sing.
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