Under the direction of Holly Compton, the St. Paul’s Episcopal School Chamber Strings embarked on a customized ten day tour throughout Austria and Italy. Some highlights of their tour included performing to packed crowds in Salzburg, Innsbruck, Venice, and Cremona, and Milan. Read what Director, Holly Compton, had to say about their second experience with Music Celebrations International:

“My story begins in January of 2015 as MCI Tour Consultant Jennifer Hulsey and I began planning a custom tour for my group. As I tossed daily questions her way she would answer them promptly, often providing suggestions and ideas which I preferred. We spoke on the phone several times as well, and along with Tour Consultant Bill Bergeman, worked every day for one month to plan a fantastic itinerary proposal.

June of 2015 saw my Director’s Preview tour of Austria and the Czech Republic. Finding MCI Tour Consultant Luke Wiscombe at the airport departure gate was very easy, as I felt as though I already knew him due to his planning and preparation. As fellow directors joined the crowd, I marveled at Luke’s balance of professionalism, ease of style, and great sense of humor. Luke made introductions within our group in such a way that we were made comfortable in a matter of minutes.  A positive vibe was already established as we boarded our flight to Europe.

Upon arrival in Munich we were met by the remainder of our people, including Cindy Petty, MCI Managing Director of Concert Productions. As a String Orchestra director, I’ve taken a “back seat” to choir directors in group settings, usually due to the needs of the many taking precedence. Having Cindy – a professional conductor, violinist, and music educator on board was more than exciting. Though the group was comprised primarily of Choir directors, the three or four of us from the String Orchestra world were given the royal treatment. Cindy spoke our language as she introduced us to prospective venues. She answered all questions before we could think of them and posed solutions for problems we had never encountered. One afternoon I met with Cindy privately, where her attention to detail and her precision regarding my itinerary just blew me away. I was so excited to have someone on board who knew the layout of my expectations and anticipations before I even mentioned them.

 Helmut Wondra, MCI Central and Eastern Europe Concert Manager, guided us through our many choices of venues. His wealth of knowledge, combined with an ease of manner and great sense of humor made a great impression and added considerably to our fantastic week.

The 2015/2016 school began my association with Amy Hargreaves, MCI Operations Specialist. We corresponded almost daily, sometimes numerous times per day for 15 months. One by one, deadlines were met, decisions were made, obstacles were overcome, and the trip of a lifetime began to unfold. Amy’s organizational skills rival my own, eclipsed only by her punctuality and her efficiency. She remained upbeat and positive, from the major issues to the tiniest detail. Some days my requests seemed practically insurmountable, but not to Amy. She took everything in stride, not allowing herself the luxury to ponder a moment, and her results always reflected her actions. As time passed, Amy felt comfortable making several suggestions to me, all of which significantly enhanced our performance tour. I felt that Amy should have made the trip with us by the end, as to this day I consider the experience “ours”.

There are others to mention like Simona Belluzzi, MCI Italy and Spain Concert Manager, and Sheila Pulver, MCI Airline Specialist. Both assisted with requests completely off the grid and came through like champions. Karel Schneider, MCI Tour Manager was great fun and provided our group with extensive living history. Julia Wondra, MCI Tour Manager returned by popular demand, having worked her way into our hearts and memories from our trip in 2013.

My custom performance tour began in Munich, through Salzburg, Innsbruck, Venice, and “crescendoed” to Cremona. Our venues exceeded all expectations, especially in St. Gilgen and in Cremona. Our Salzburg hotel was off the charts, but Venice and Cremona hotels were charming as well. Our dining experiences were met with accolades, especially our New Year’s Eve feast. A balanced itinerary provided an experience brimming with adventure, fun, history, and culture.

As director, my entire tour experience lasted almost two calendar years. I don’t mean to understate how much we enjoyed our 10 day tour, quite the contrary – we were absolutely blown away. 

The reason I plan to choose MCI for our next trip has not so much to do with the destination, but rather the people with whom I owe my thanks and gratitude. I look very forward to our next association.”

Holly Compton

Director of String Orchestras

St. Paul’s Episcopal School

Mobile, AL