Ambassadors of Music in Europe

Oconto Falls High School musicians combine with area music students to serve as Ambassadors of Music in Europe
WAM 2014-Oconto Falls
Pictured at the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland:
Row 1: Stephanie Gortarez, Hannah Knutson, Hannah Cunningham, Leah Wons, Ashley Baeten, Jennifer Deau, and Brittany Russell
Row 2: Elizabeth Muzquiz, Robert Muzquiz, Diana Radtke, Amy Thiel, Angela Baeten, Kelly Deau, and Evelyn O’Harrow

305 of Wisconsin’s finest musicians experienced an incredible 16-day “trip of a lifetime” from June 26-July 12, 2014 as part of Wisconsin’s Ambassadors of Music European Tour.

These outstanding vocalists and instrumentalists represented Wisconsin and the United States while presenting musical performances and touring throughout Europe, including London, England; Paris, France; Crans-Montana, Switzerland; Vaduz, Liechtenstein; Seefeld, Austria; Venice, Italy; and Rothenburg, Germany. Each participant was selected through nominations by their high school and college music directors. The Oconto Falls High School Music Department was proudly represented by student musicians Ashley Baeten (Choir), Hannah Cunningham (Band), Jennifer Deau (Choir), Stephanie Gortarez (Choir), Hannah Knutson (Choir), Evelyn O’Harrow (Choir), Brittany Russell (Band), and Leah Wons (Choir). Adults from the Oconto Falls School District included Angela Baeten, Kelly Deau, Robert & Elizabeth Muzquiz, and Diana Radtke. Amy Thiel, Oconto Falls High School Choral Director, served as director of the 2014 WAM Choir.

Student musicians attending from area schools included Sara Waara (Lena HS); Serenity Driscoll & Madison Mortier (Oconto HS); Abigail Dorow & Jeremy Jaeckels (New London HS); Sarah Hanna, Abigail Neville, Cassidy Salentine, Erica Sampo, and Emma Wallander (Luxemburg-Casco HS); James Menting (Little Chute HS). Adults from Northeast Wisconsin included Lori Sampo, and Ed & Ellen Hanchek. Ellen served as accompanist for the 2014 WAM Choir.

Highlights of the tour included choir and band performances at the Victoria Embankment in London, England before an international audience, a performance in Crans-Montana, Switzerland before an ecstatic audience, and a final performance in Rothenburg, Germany. Additional Choir performance highlights included singing for a service at Wesley Chapel in London, England, performing at the Wilten Basilica in Innsbruck, Austria and at St. Oswald’s Church in Seefeld, Austria, singing at the Basilica of San Marco (St. Mark’s) in Venice, Italy and at St. Severin in Paris, France, and performing in the Marketplatz and a local church in Rothenburg, Germany.

The 2014 WAM Choir and Band performed a wide variety of sacred and secular music and combined their musicianship for spectacular performances throughout Europe on America the Beautiful and On Wisconsin. The choir performed a special tribute to American composer Irving Berlin, including There’s no business like show business , Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Puttin’ on the Ritz, Blue Skies, Always, and God Bless America. The choir’s sacred program featured many classics and contemporary pieces, including Ave Verum by W.A. Mozart, Sanctus by Franz Schubert, Ave Maria by Tomas da Victoria, Ye Followers of the Lamb arranged by Earle Ferguson, For the Beauty of the Earth by John Rutter, Precious Lord, Take My Hand by Roy Ringwald, Amazing Grace arranged by Ed Lojeski, and the spiritual Every Time I Feel The Spirit arranged by William Dawson. The WAM Band performed a variety of patriotic and American-themed selections, including Stars and Stripes Forever by John Phillip Sousa, Star Spangled Spectacular arranged by John Cacavas and Big Band Spectacular by John Higgins.

These fine musicians were able to visit many significant historical and educational sites throughout Europe, including the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, the Theatre District, and the Tower of London (including the famous crown jewels) in London; Notre Dame, Sacre Coure, and the Louvre (including Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece and the Mona Lisa) in Paris; the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland and the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Montreaux, Switzerland; the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany, and the Medieval city of Rothenburg, Germany.

“This was an extraordinary group of dedicated, hardworking, and talented musicians. They were exceptional ambassadors for our community, Wisconsin, Northeast Wisconsin, and the entire United States. I am extremely proud of each and every student,” commented Choral Director Amy Thiel.

Since its inception in 1994, The Wisconsin Ambassador of Music Choir has been directed by Oconto Falls High School choral director Amy Thiel and Alex Sabo, retired band director from Kenosha Bradford High School has served as the director for the Wisconsin Ambassadors of Music Band.

As per a proclamation by the Governor of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Ambassadors of Music were named the official ambassadors for the state of Wisconsin from June 26-July 12.

The next Wisconsin Ambassadors of Music European Tour is scheduled for June, 2016.