The End.

Welcome Home Hodgson Singers

They say to expect the unexpected, but how can you prepare for something you aren’t thinking about? The act of preparing for it automatically makes it the expected. It would be more fitting if they said “expect change.” Expect things to be different than you planned.

I planned a lot of things for this trip, and I can honestly say that I don’t think any of them turned out quite like what I expected. I planned on more sleep, cooler weather, and less walking. I planned on more comfortable flights and more internet access. I even planned (and printed out) a blog posting schedule.

I was overconfident. But more importantly, I was short-sighted.

This trip has exceeded every one of my expectations. Our first night in Prague we saw Mozart’s Don Giovanni in the opera house where it first premiered. Beautiful weather in Salzburg allowed many of us to visit the Alps and discover just how small we really are. For our concert in Salzburg Cathedral we were told to bypass the choral risers and perform in front of the altar because our host believed our music to be so beautiful that we “needed to be closer to God.” And who could have imagined such an incredible win at Baden’s International Choral Competition Ave Verum?

Dr. Bara told us when we had memorized all our music that we had created something that would only ever be ours. No other choir will ever learn this music for these reasons and interpret it in this particular way. And it’s true—we have created something special that now has to come to a close. The 2014 ICC AV champion will never sing again. Already our group has begun to disperse: four of our number stayed in Europe, four flew in to Atlanta yesterday, and once we land at 2:50 today everyone else will go their separate ways. And while some of us may be back next year, the rest will have grad school, jobs, or other activities that will prevent them from rejoining the UGA Hodgson Singers.

We’ve given our closing concert, performed our last piece, and sung our final notes.

As we head to the end of our little adventure, all I can say is thank you to the many family members and friends who helped us get here. The experiences on this trip have been more than any of us could have hoped for. Our music and our friendships have only grown stronger. And even though we will never again be in the same place with the same people for the same purpose, I know each and every one of us will treasure these last few days together.

Thanks and my very best to you all,

Nathan Schreer

Nathan Schreer

UPDATE: landed in ATL

The Hodgson Singers on flight LH 444 have landed in Atlanta. The current time of posting this is 2:06 EDT.

We will now proceed to customs and baggage claim. For those meeting their family at the airport, this process may take approximately one hour.

For those awaiting our return in Athens, our travel time will be an additional two hours from the time we clear customs and board the bus.

See you all soon!

Thoughtful Nothings

“Mmmmmm. Fried meats. Mmmmm. Wine. Mmmmmmmm. Dinner.”
Caleb Hopkins

Stephanie: “Maybe I hate being on this plane.”
David: “Yeah, planes are kinda scary. We don’t belong in plastic tubes.”

“We have all had an incredible time on this trip. Some more than others. Ahem, Gary.”
Katie Black

“I usually hardcore judge the instrumentalists performing for us, whether on the streets or in restaurants. It didn’t take me long to realize that it wasn’t worth it. It’s music! That’s why we’re all here, right? I mean, the terrible technique of the violinist at the first restaurant doesn’t matter that much, does it…?”
Esther Tonea

“We cry too much.”
Mary Martha Clark

“Some stories should not be shared. And should also be shortened.”
McCall Stiles

“Theresa ist Maria Theresia”
Evan “the dogfight” Tyor

“Caleb might be a troll.
I’m not sure…”
Evan-tinto Tyor

“ICEd.”
Caleb

“Definitely not the best “Crying In A Meadow” I’ve ever been to, but also definitely not the worst.”
Laura Leigh Beall

“And then I saw someone from Coro Siamo. And then I said hello. Then I left.”
Brian W. Lustig

“Dr. Bara, you are the reason why we are the family we are today.”
Bryan Rante

“dear jenna: you’re hot.”
Anonymous

“This trip has HANDS DOWN been the best experience of my life thus far.”
Christopher Robin Sapp

“Never have I known so many beautiful souls to be gathered together in one group.”
Andrew Rabanal

“Of all the trips I’ve been on in my life, this was one of them. But in all seriousness, this was truly an incredible experience, and I wouldn’t trade my time in Europe with my forty-some-odd closest friends for anything in the world.”
J.R. Hodges

“This group has been one of the pinnacles of my life. As cheesy as it was, orur hearts beat the same rhythm during that music. Together we made music bigger than us and fostered friendships because of it. This trip has been the best experience of my life. I will miss all of you so deeply and dearly, you are some of the greatest and most talented human beings I have ever known. All the love in the world to all of you.”
David Conley

“Being a member of the Hodgson Singers for the past four years has no doubt been the most wonderful and rewarding experience of my entire life. I could not have asked for a better way to end my senior year than with this incredible journey we have been on for the past ten days. This tour has provided me with so many memories that I will truly cherish forever.”
Emily Skilling

“Together our breath rises and falls together, our voices soar in flock, our hearts love as one. Together, we form a single entity; not a machine, but a living, breathing organism, unified through our love of music and each other. Though some remain and some must leave us, off to harvest the fruits of their talent and hard work, we will forever be connected. This journey has proven this fact to be truer than ever. We are the Hodgson Singers.”
Henry Adams

“This elevator is small, but slow. It’s kind of like saying ‘her voice is small, but ugly’.”
Dr. Burnett

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH” to Dr. Burnett’s comment
Olivia Greene

“Today is Beverly Sills birthday… so… bless”
Katie Black

“I’m gonna crawl under the table and scare Avery. This is gonna be weird. Katie, ignore me. I’m not coming for you.”
David Conley

“You know its actually pretty depressing that there will be so many people leaving the choir next year, but this night has made me realize that even though they’re leaving the memories we’ve made together will stay with us all forever.”
Cameron Stahl

UPDATE: leaving for ATL tomorrow

The Hodgson Singers will be staying the night at a hotel in Frankfurt. We will board flight LH 444 (Lufthansa) for Atlanta at 10:00am CEST.

We are scheduled to arrive in Atlanta at 2:50pm EDT (edit: time corrected, previously listed 1:55pm)

Joy, Russell, McCall, and Jenna were the only four who could leave tonight for Atlanta (possibly with connecting flights) to accommodate their family and professional commitments. If they were unable to contact you prior to take off, they should already be on their way safely.

TL;DR we will be housed, fed, and rested before our (rescheduled) journey home tomorrow. We send our love and will be home soon!

We belong in the Zoo!

picstitch 5

 

When I go to foreign cities my lists of sights to see don’t usually include zoos. I have Jenna and Henry to thank for the wonderful adventure we went on to the oldest zoo in the WORLD! Our last day in Vienna was a free day and we chose to embrace our inner child and venture out. We saw giraffes, elephants (which Jenna literally ran like a child to), polar bears, lions, wolves, and my personal favorite: pandas. The pictures do much more justice than I could describe in a text post but it was a really magical day. Everyone got to see their favorite animals, it was beautiful outside, and we were in Vienna! At the end of a long, emotionally charged trip, it was very nice to relax and watch lots of fluffy things be cute. The Atlanta Zoo is going to be hard to return to after Vienna…

Amanda McKenzie
Amanda McKenzie

Travelling Back Through Time

Today was my last day in Europe, and I like to think I did it justice by packing as many experiences as possible into one day. I have always been interested in the history of the Holocaust and I have read a lot of Holocaust literature, so when I heard there were a couple people looking to go visit the concentration camp memorial at Mauthausan with our free day, I was very ready to join them.

Mauthausan is a small town that is an hour and 45 minute train ride followed by a 20 minute taxi ride from Vienna. I will say that the travel part of our journey was quite a fun adventure. It felt very empowering to be able to navigate through a foreign country with no command over the native language and still make it to and from our destination smoothly.

I cannot say that my experience at the concentration camp was fun, but I can say that it was extremely meaningful and astounding. The memorial was set up with an audio tour where we could listen to information about various marked places around the camp. It was crazy for me to see the roll call locations, the barracks, the washrooms, the granite quarries, the crematoriums, and the gas chambers that I have read so much about. Since Holocaust literature is written in such vivid detail, I felt very connected to everything I was seeing because as I was walking around I could imagine the images from my readings in my physical surroundings.

What astounded me most about my experience at Mauthausan is that the town of Mauthausan and the surrounding countryside is so beautiful. It was heartbreaking for me to see the juxtaposition of the utter ugliness of the camp with the pristine Austrian landscape. It amazes me that such horrible things could happen in such a beautiful place.

When I woke up at 6:00 AM today on the one day we had to sleep in, I spent a solid 5 minutes looking at the time trying to decide whether I really wanted to go through this whole journey for the sake of this concentration camp or if I just wanted to go back to bed, wake up in a few hours, and just spend more time in the city.

Now having seen what I saw, I can definitively say that I made the right decision. In my days in Europe I have seen not only the beautiful and rich cultural history of Europe, but I have also explored some of the darkness of the reality of human experience on this beautiful continent.

As I write this final blog post I just want to emphasize what a fabulous 10 days I have had. I have learned so much and had so many new experiences. I like to think I took full advantage of this incredible opportunity and I would like to sincerely give thanks to everyone who helped make this possible.

It has indeed been an incredible trip back through time, but tomorrow we come home. We come back to reality and hopefully lessons from our past and lessons from our music will continue to guide our futures.

Mugdha Joshi
Mugdha Joshi