We were thrilled to host the Mississippi State University Choirs on tour May 12-20, 2016 as part of the American Celebration of Music in Austria & The Czech Republic. Under the direction of Dr. Gary Packwood, the singers performed at St. Nikolas Church in Bad Ischl, the historic Abbey in Melk, St. Stephan’s Cathedral in Vienna, and at St. Martin in the Wall and St. Nicholas Church in Prague.
Dr. Packwood recently shared some memories of the tour with us:
I am so very grateful for the careful planning and execution that Music Celebration International (MCI) provided for the Mississippi State University Singers and me. Having lead several European choral tours, I can easily say that we were thrilled with the enthusiasm of the audiences, but moreover, I was particularly surprised at the sheer number of people who turned out to hear us sing – this has not always been my experience.
It is difficult to pinpoint a standout performance, but I will tell you that participating in the church service at St. Nikolas in Bad Ischl was an experience that the students relived over and over again. Our recital concert at Melk Abby, the choral workshop with the incomparable Professor Ziegler, and the overwhelming atmosphere provided by the concert in St. Stephan’s Cathedral, made us all better stewards for mankind, and a certainly touched our souls. We could not have imagined that the venues could be better, but by the time we performed in Prague, at the most charming St. Martin in the Wall, and the elegant St. Nicholas Church, well, we were wrong.
My favorite experience was our dinner and sharing of music in the home of Dr. Jutta Unkart-Seifert. She was a most gracious hostess and a lovely musician and person. For a great majority of the students in the MSU Singers, this was their very first time leaving the state, let alone the county. For some of them, it may well be their last, so thanks to everyone at MCI for allowing us to bridge what we read in text books and view on media devices, with a truly enriching and transforming experience. We returned different; we returned better! A big “shout-out” and thank you to our wonder guide, Karolina Zadrazilova and Dr. Jutta Unkart-Seifert!
Gary Packwood, D.M.A.
Associate Professor & Director of Choral Activities
Mississippi State University – Department of Music