Columbia musicians to embark on three-city Austria tour

Friday, March 13, 2009 | 11:45 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Since the days of Beethoven and Mozart, Austria has been famous for classical music. On March 21, musicians from Columbia will have a chance to perform there. The Jane Froman Singers of Columbia College are teaming up with the Columbia Civic Orchestra for a nine-day tour of Austria at the end of this month.

"For me personally, it's my opportunity to be in these performance spaces in cities that were home to great musicians in the history of classical music," said Nollie Moore, director of the Jane Froman Singers. "It's an awe-inspiring opportunity."

The group will perform a preview of the tour program on Sunday evening on the Columbia College campus. The tour, produced by Music Celebrations International, is a part of the 2009 American Celebration of Music in Austria, commemorating the 200th anniversary of composer Joseph Haydn's death. The group will visit three cities in Austria: Vienna, Graz and Salzburg. Musicians will mostly perform in churches.

"I'm really excited about playing in churches," said orchestra director Stefan Freund. "We're playing some really great music that will sound amazing in these wonderfully acoustic places."

The program will include a wide array of music, including a piece by Freund written specifically for the tour. He said the music is sensitive to the time of year.

"We'll be performing mostly in cathedrals, so we have to be consistent with the time of Lent," Freund said.

Both directors have experience performing abroad. Moore traveled to Beijing in 2007 with the Jane Froman Singers as a part of the International Choir Festival. Freund, too, has spent time overseas, including the Netherlands and Russia.

"We're fortunate at Columbia College to have an administration that understands the value of travel opportunities for educational experience," Moore said. "Because of that, we've had the opportunity to tour on a regular basis."

Rachel Wester, an alto in the Jane Froman Singers who traveled with Moore to Beijing, said the experience she has gained abroad is invaluable.

"Going to a place you know nothing about sort of changes your perspective on everything," Wester said.

The orchestra and the choir have worked together before, including on a concert last month at the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts.