A Reflection by Sue Horne

Post-tour Reflection – Sue Horne (mother of singer Rudy Kammel)

As a parent of a Drake Choir student (and a non-music person, I might add!) I was so grateful for the opportunity to travel with the group.  Latvia, Estonia, and Finland have never been on my “must see” list; however, now that I have been there, I highly recommend travel to these countries (with a choir group if you can!).

Each venue the students performed in was a different experience.  The music, the acoustics, the people, the emotions were so moving.  In Latvia I sat in front of a man who spoke very little English.  When the choir sang a Latvian song, the man held his hands over his heart as tears flowed and after, with a huge smile on his face, he kept telling me how beautiful it was.  When the choir sang an Estonian song the audience gave them a standing ovation.  And in Finland the audience was obviously moved when the choir performed a Finnish song.  All meaningful experiences for the choir, for the audiences, and for me to witness what music can do to connect us all.

In each city we visited people were welcoming, the scenery was beautiful, the history was fascinating and moving, and the food was terrific.  Most important, though, was the opportunity to be with so many talented, bright, open-minded young people and to see them connect with others from all over the world.  It gives one hope for the future!

This trip was “easy” for those of us along for the ride.  However, the work that goes into planning a trip of this magnitude for 70+ people and the many people involved in making it flow seamlessly is astonishing!  Dr. Aimee Beckman-Collier had a vision and she made it a reality for all of us on the trip – Thank You seems insufficient, so I hope she knows how many lives she has impacted.  This trip was an excellent example of many people from various countries who had never met before coming together and working towards a common goal.  Every detail was well thought out:  the accommodations, the food, the transportation, the venues for performing, the opportunity for the choir to sing with professionals in Estonia and Finland, the opportunity for the choir to work with a world renowned composer in Latvia, the sight-seeing tours with expert tour guides, even the free time to explore were all pre-arranged by many people all based on Dr. ABC’s vision!  As a parent, I will be forever grateful that my son had the opportunity to study with Dr. ABC these last four years, as well as to travel with and learn from Dr. David Puderbaugh and Dr. Bob Demaree (not to mention the amazing Medieval lunch we had with Dr. Demaree, his lovely wife Becky, and both of our children was pretty cool!).

I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank my son, Rudy Kammel.  Through him I have had the most amazing opportunities to learn about music, to travel with this great group of students to New York last year and this Baltic Tour, and to host students in our home for the regional tour.  And he has learned from the best so now he can go out into the world and influence young people’s lives with music just as his has been!

Finally my hope for the students on the trip is they learned from this phenomenal opportunity about what it takes to work with others, even those they may not particularly “like”, and that they carry that with them as they join the ranks of professionals in whatever line of work they enter.  It’s a big world and we all have to work together every single day to make it a better place for everyone.  Thank you, Drake Choir and Dr. ABC, for sharing your passion, your talent, your joy of life and learning, your warmth and friendship, and your time with us – our lives are better for it!