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June 28, 2018
By Grace Niemeyer, communication assistant
Twelve Northwest Missouri State University students joined Professor of Music Dr. Ernest Kramer in May on a seven-country tour of Europe to experience and understand the most important sites in the development of western music.
Kramer has taken students on “Essence of Europe,” a multi-country tour, for more than 20 years, although this year’s tour was the first time students could receive academic credit for the experience. Students enrolled in Enjoyment of Music, Music Literature: Romantic through 21st Century, or a special topics course for the study abroad experience.
“An educated person has to be able to understand alternate viewpoints and cultures, and the only way to gain that experience is to live in different cultures,” Kramer said. “Second, classical or serious music is largely the result of Western Europe. For those professional musicians who do not travel, the beginnings of opera in Florence, the beginnings of musical notation in Arezzo, the beginnings of polyphony in Paris, or the performance of masterworks by Purcell and Handel in London will always just remain boring textbook facts, devoid of much meaning or imagery. However, the meaning and importance of these sites come alive once students actually see and experience them.”
In Salzburg, Austria, students visited the house where Mozart was born, the Dome Cathedral where he performed as a young man, the Mozart family cemetery plot, the Mozarteum, and the “Wohnhaus” in which he spent his teenage years. In Italy, students saw the birth house of Guido d’Arezzo, the inventor of musical notation and sight singing, and visited the church where he worked. In Venice, students saw Antonio Vivaldi’s birthplace, the church where he worked and his museum. Students visited the grave of Claudio Monteverdi, the inventor of opera, and Saint Mark's Cathedral, where Antonio and Giovanni Gabrielli worked and developed their double choir techniques.
In Paris, students visited Notre Dame Cathedral where composers Lenin and Perrin developed polyphony as well as the Garnier Opera. The group also spent time in Montmatre, the artistic district where Debussy Ravel, and other French composers worked. In London, students visited Covent Garden and Westminster Abby, where George Frederic Handel and Henry Purcell are buried. The group also attended several London musicals, including “Wicked.”
“One of the many highlights of the trip was going to Mount Pilatus in Lucerne, Switzerland,” said Kimberly Shriver, a junior instrumental music education major from Omaha, Nebraska. “On the way to the bottom of the mountain, we passed by a house that famous composer Richard Wagner used to live in. At the top of Mount Pilatus, we could see nearly all of Lucerne. I absolutely fell in love with the view and that city.”
Shriver said she gained cultural experiences she can infuse in her future career as a band director.
“This trip helps me as a band director because firsthand experience of the world allows me to put context into why and how a piece of music was written,” Shriver said. “This context comes from knowing the history of what was going on at the time a piece of music was written. It has helped me improve communication and critical thinking skills and recognize landmark musical compositions.”
The study abroad package included Northwest tuition for three or six academic credits, airfare, airport pickup and drop-off, hotel accommodations, daily breakfast and dinner meals, tour reservations and entrance fees, presenters and lecturers, a Eurostar Bullet Train from France to England, transportation and course-related visits and performances.
“I hope that the students will have gained a new appreciation for other cultures and, more importantly, other ways of thinking,” Kramer said. “Once students have been abroad, they become more broad-minded and open to other points of view. That transformation is priceless.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468