I’m now safely back on Brandt 4th West, and it couldn’t feel any better. January was easily the best month of my life, but it was time to come home and not live out of a suitcase anymore.
Our last week in Vienna was concert week, with performances in Oberschutzen, Stockerau and Vienna. The first two concerts were in small countryside towns with relatively low concert attendance, but exciting nevertheless. The concert halls in Oberschutzen and Stockerau were modern, but just as beautiful as the elegant Wiener Konzerthaus. I learned something interesting about Viennese audiences though. Through attending operas and concerts myself, I know that the Viennese love to clap, but little did I know that they love to clap in between movements as well. Not that LCSO didn’t appreciate their enthusiasm, but sometimes it ruined the flow of the music. Our last concert was in the Wiener Konzerthaus with a very full crowd. What made it even more special was the parent and alumni companion tour that came to all our concerts, and another Luther study abroad trip ended in Vienna to attend our concert as well.
All of our performances were just downright fun. We knew the music so well that we could focus on making perfect musical moments, and our audiences loved our interpretations of our mostly American music. These three concerts left me with some of the best musical moments of my career.
We had concerts on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, so Tuesday was our last free day in Vienna. I spent it doing my last tourist-y things, but well worth it. I started by taking an audio tour of Schonbrunn Palace, the summer residency of the Hapsburg monarchs. The 40-room tour of the imperial apartments was exquisite, with detailed flooring, tapestry-covered walls, and historical artifacts from the royal family’s time. Later, I ventured to see the Danube River. It was dark by the time I reached it, but it’s honestly not that gorgeous in the daytime either. It’s rather perplexing why Strauss would write a waltz about this river...
Friday morning, LCSO loaded all our belongings (our bags being much heavier with souvenirs and candy) onto the buses and drove to Munich. I was feeling a little melancholy about leaving. Part of me wanted to hide out in a cafe and never leave, but part of me wanted to get one step closer to home. In the end, we made it to Munich and spent the evening in the hotel, recovering and recharging for our last day in Europe. Saturday morning we had another art museum tour. Not that it wasn’t lovely, but we had seen many museums by this time, so unfortunately the loveliness was a little lost on me. We had the afternoon free to explore and pack, so I bought my last souvenirs, my last kebap (a yummy Turkish sandwich) and hoped and prayed that my bag was under 50 pounds!
LCSO’s farewell dinner was at Augustiner Brauhaus (Augustina Brewery) where we enjoyed meat, meat and more meat. Oh yeah, and potatoes. After inspiring speeches from our leaders (Dr. Baldwin, the doctors Strauss and Strauss, Sarah Miller and Dr. Xiao Hu), and a few toasts to our sections, many of us ended our German culture experience in the Hofbrau Haus, the most famous brewery in Munich. The flight home the next morning was without incident, and somehow I slept the entire five hour bus ride from Chicago to Luther. Being overly tired is the best way to conquer jet lag, because after one day in the Central time zone, I’m already adjusted.
Overall, I was most impressed at how Europe honored it’s artists, architects, musicians and authors, something the States could definitely take note of. The documentation of the city of Vienna was thorough, almost as if people knew it would have a rich history. The care and detail they put into all aspects of their culture is something to be admired. Anyway, classes start tomorrow, and I have to say I’m glad to be back at Luther. My goal is to go back to Vienna someday though, because musical nerd paradise awaits.