Mandan News

Mandan students travel to Europe with Northern Ambassadors of Music

(l-r) Mandan band students Shae Skager, Taylor Charvat and Hailey Fitterer visit the Eiffel Tower while on tour with the Northern Ambassadors of Music.

(l-r) Mandan band students Shae Skager, Taylor Charvat and Hailey Fitterer visit the Eiffel Tower while on tour with the Northern Ambassadors of Music. Submitted photos

Three students from Mandan High School recently participated in the Northern Ambassadors of Music tour of Europe. In early July, MHS band members Taylor Charvat, Hailey Fitterer and Shae Skager traveled with more than 300 other band and choir musicians from North Dakota and Montana through seven countries in Europe, sharing their music with European audiences. The group made stops in England, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy and Germany.

The group visited such locales and landmarks as Big Ben and Westminster Abbey in London, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre in Paris, the Matterhorn in Switzerland, the Olympic Village in Innsbruck, Austria, and St. Mark’s Square in Venice.

Charvat, who plays baritone saxophone, Fitterer, who plays tuba, and Skager, who plays bassoon, played with the 120-plus member band, that performed several songs at each performance, including patriotic standards such as “America, the Beautiful” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Charvat also played with the group’s jazz ensemble.

Each girl had some favorite memories about the trip.

Charvat said, “My favorite country was definitely Switzerland. I loved the whole idea of it and it reminded me of home. The mountains were absolutely stunning. I tried a real crepe in Paris and that was delicious. Nutella, of course! I know I made lifelong friends with these two amazing girls and many others on the trip. Coming home to reality was very difficult when all I wanted to do was stay in my dream. Going to Europe was such an amazing experience and I would recommend it to anyone if they got the chance to go.”

Fitterer said, “Words can never explain what it felt like to go to the one place I have dreamt of going to as a kid. The touring, the flowers, the architecture – all absolutely incredible. The weather was beautiful and so were the oceans, lakes, and of course, the Swiss Alps in Switzerland. The mountains were absolutely stunning and breathtaking. I tried flan for the first time and I thought it was interesting, but my honest favorite was trying the real gelato.”

Skager said, “This was the trip of a lifetime. I made some lifelong friends, played incredible music and visited gorgeous places. I was amazed at the excitement of the crowds in Europe when we played our patriotic American songs. Many of them stood and cheered or waved American flags. It was interesting to try new foods and meet people who spoke other languages. In London, I loved our tour guide’s accent, and in Paris, I got my first taste of escargot. I swam in Lake Geneva in Switzerland, which was invigorating, and visited the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany, which was sad and sobering. I definitely made some priceless memories.”

Students were nominated for the 2013 Northern Ambassadors of Music tour based on their level of musicianship, leadership and character, and were selected for participation by invitation. Each nominee received a copy of an ambassador of goodwill proclamation from the office of the. Charvat, Fitterer and Skager were all nominated by the Mandan Middle School music department to represent Mandan on this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

The Northern Ambassadors of Music tour is an educational program designed for honor music students to perform and share their musical talents, while gaining cultural enrichment abroad. Voyageurs International, Ltd., a Denver-based agency specializing in European music tours for over 37 states throughout the country for over 40 years, designed the tour. This was the Northern Ambassadors seventh tour, having grown from 110 participants in 2001 to almost 350 travelers in 2013.

Taylor Charvat, Shae Skager and Hailey Fitterer hang out in Innsbruck, Austria, which was the home of the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics.

Taylor Charvat, Shae Skager and Hailey Fitterer hang out in Innsbruck, Austria, which was the home of the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics.