Youth chamber orchestra from Germany visits sister cityWilmington's Children's Orchestra brings exchange students to cape region
With the summer slowly reaching its end, the Wilmington Children’s Chorus spent a week with its sister city’s Youth Chamber Orchestra from Fulda, Germany. From July 28 to Aug. 3, the groups of students ages 8 to 18 traveled together, ate together, practiced together and lived together.
They also spent a day together at Cape Henlopen State Park, Lewes, before returning upstate.
Started in 2002, the Children's Chorus looked to Wilmington’s many sister cities to start a musical exchange, and found the Youth Chamber Orchestra in Fulda, Germany. Singer Asa Cornish, a recent graduate from Newark High School, has been in the choir for five years.
“I love the choir,” Cornish said. “We get to do a lot of amazing things year round, like the Longwood Gardens concert or our Tenth Anniversary concert.” As he goes on to study at Delaware State University, he plans on minoring in music.
“Many of our students major in other things, but keep music in their lives,” said Kimberly Doucette, artistic director for the Children’s Chorus. By 2011, the Children’s Chorus had enough communication and had raised enough funds to travel to Fulda and work with the members of the orchestra in a cultural exchange program. Students lived with host families and were given a tour of the area while practicing together each night for their final duet concert Aug. 2 at St. Helena’s Church in Wilmington. Guiliana Brawley, a senior soprano at Archmere Academy in Wilmington, entered the choir four years ago with the help from her friends. “[The trip to Fulda] was awesome. We got to see so many places, and our concert was in a palace,” Brawley said.
Now, two years later, a lot of choir students are hosting the same orchestra students who hosted them on their trip to Germany, and many alumni were invited back to meet the students from Germany and sing in the final concert in accompaniment with the Youth Chamber Orchestra.
Magdalena Kött, a 16-year-old violin player, has been in the United States before with her family. “It’s pretty perfect. The rehearsals are exhausting but fun,” she said. “I have found a lot of friends from when they were in Germany.” For her second time in the states, Kött’s family joined her. Her father plays the timpany, or a set of kettledrums; her mother is a chaplan, or director; and her brother plays the cello.
One of her friends, Mirjam Reitzig, experienced her first time in the states. Reitzig, a 17-year-old cello player, said “I don’t think I have the right words for it,” when describing her trip so far. “It’s a really great experience to practice with the choir,” but they would never drive two hours to a beach, she said. “By then we would be out of Germany,” Reitzig joked.
As for the language barrier, there isn’t much of one. “We have two [of our] students studying German,” said Doucette, and fortunately nearly all of the Germans are fluent in English as well. In the years to come, the two organizations would like to keep alternating years of travel, so by 2015 the students of Wilmington’s Children’s Chorus would travel back to Fulda. “It’s a lot of planning, but it’s well worth it,” said Doucette.