May 1, 2024     Encore Tours

2024 Spring Travel Recap


As we look back on this travel season, we do so with mixed emotions. The recent passing of James Smith, a key member of the Encore family, has deeply affected us all. James played a crucial role in shaping many of our tours and was renowned for his commitment to creating exceptional travel experiences. His passing leaves a significant void in our team, but his influence remains with us.

This season has been bittersweet without him, yet we continue to feel his profound influence. Inspired by James’s dedication, we’ve strived to continue the work he loved so much, honoring his memory by maintaining the high standards he set.

This year’s tours have been conducted with a commitment to excellence and a renewed sense of purpose, honoring James’s legacy by continuing to provide outstanding experiences for all our travelers. Here are some of the season’s highlights, reflecting our efforts to celebrate and build upon the foundation that James helped establish.


Performances this season resonated deeply with enthusiastic audiences, leading to unforgettable moments for performers and spectators alike. The venues were all carefully selected to meet the unique needs of each ensemble, but a few venues received particularly rave reviews this season. One such highlight was the Stiftung Mozarteum – Großer Saal in Salzburg, Austria. The hall, brimming with eager listeners, provided a perfect backdrop for the musical talents on display. Attendees marveled at the seamless fusion of sound and space, with one group leader remarking, “This was absolutely a brilliant choice for a venue. It was packed with people, and the sound was great in the hall.”

Another standout was France’s Chateau de Blois, hailed not only as “our favorite performance of the tour” but also deemed “a top performance in Spirito Singers history.” Adding to the tour’s acclaim was the ensemble’s remarkable performance at Eglise de la Madeleine, where they captivated an audience of over 700!

Beyond the concerts, this season’s tours offered enriching cultural immersion experiences, such as a joint fiddle workshop and performance with a local Scottish arts organization. Reflecting on this unique opportunity, a group leader remarked, “This was my favorite musical activity for all students! I was a little concerned with how long it was—I knew it could be great but also knew that depending on the teachers, it could be awful. It was great. The way they formatted class and broke things down was perfect. It was awesome that the kids got to have pizza with the Scottish students and they all made friends and had a great time. They were then able to come together and jam for a bit more at the end. It was perfect.”

Overall, the performances and the reception they received underscored the power of music to transcend boundaries and foster connections. Each venue became a stage for shared moments of beauty and emotion, leaving a lasting impression on performers, audiences, and organizers alike.

“This was absolutely a brilliant choice for a venue. It was packed with people and the sound was great in the hall.”

Neli N., Group Leader

Tour Managers

Our tour managers have consistently raised the bar for excellence this spring, playing pivotal roles in the success of each tour. Each bringing their own unique strengths to the table, they helped craft memorable experiences that resonated deeply.

For years, Peter Ede has been a favorite among our groups due to his exceptional interpersonal skills and meticulous attention to detail. His ability to anticipate the needs of travelers and address any issues proactively has earned him widespread admiration. Feedback from one of the groups encapsulates the sentiment: “We love Peter Ede!” His enthusiasm and effective management ensure that every tour element flows seamlessly and joyfully.

Anita Mandl also stood out as a truly exceptional tour manager, with groups praising her empathetic approach and keen organizational skills. Participants described her involvement as “spectacular” and “brilliant,” noting how her energetic presence and attention to detail enhanced their travel experience. One participant remarked, “Truly a spectacular experience with Anita! She made it smooth and comfortable. She was brilliant and seemed to enjoy the music, which meant the world to the students. We were all so touched!”

Known for his dynamic approach and ability to connect with people, John Perry also drew praise from recent groups. His commitment to enhancing the educational and recreational aspects of each trip has been particularly noteworthy. As one traveler noted, “John Perry truly made the trip AMAZING for the students, teachers, chaperones, and even a bit for himself.” His ability to blend fun, learning, and adventure brought a unique flair to the tours, helping participants forge lasting memories.

The tour manager duo, Christine Semba and Raquel Rakemre, also received accolades from their group leader for their exceptional passion and dedication. “They were incredible, going above and beyond to ensure our safety, enjoyment, and success on tour. They were always ready to communicate and worked hard to incorporate changes we requested, especially the addition of more free time. They were also very accommodating when some of our group wanted to forego Versailles in favor of more free time in Paris. Plus, they were both just really nice. I cant say enough about Christine and Raquel. They both deserve huge raises!”

These tour managers, with their distinctive styles and unwavering commitment, have not only met but exceeded the high expectations set by our company. Their contributions have been crucial in upholding the legacy of quality and satisfaction that Encore Tours strives to deliver.

I cant say enough about Christine and Raquel. They both deserve huge raises!

Carling F., Group Leader

Program Consultants

Behind every successful tour lies the meticulous planning and coordination carried out by our dedicated Program Consultants. They serve as the primary point of contact for tour organizers, guiding them through the intricacies of tour planning and execution. They leverage their expertise and industry knowledge to curate customized itineraries tailored to the unique preferences and objectives of each group. Despite difficult circumstances, our team thrived and earned rave reviews from group leaders.

Known for his unwavering dedication, meticulous attention to detail, and vibrant personality, Glenn Quirion primarily oversees tours for group leaders from the Midwest and Southern states. A testament to his exceptional service, one group leader eloquently captured the essence of Glenn’s approach: “From the very beginning, Glenn made us feel cared for and known…He treated us like colleagues rather than customers.”

Robin Teague, alongside Glenn, exemplified the same level of professionalism and dedication in her role as a Program Consultant. One group leader expressed their appreciation, saying, “For what [program manager] Matthew and Robin had to go through, I wish that on no one. They should be commended for their efforts, along with James’s, for creating my best trip up to this date.”


We have always prioritized finding comfortable, well-located hotels so you’re able to make the most of your time abroad. This past season, feedback on the accommodations was overwhelmingly positive, with guests expressing appreciation for the quality and location of their hotels.

One group leader’s remark encapsulated the sentiment shared by many: “So I have been running a trip every two years for the past maybe 20 years. I’m not really sure how many trips I have done so far. THIS IS THE BEST HOTEL I HAVE EVER STAYED AT ON THESE TRIPS. The rooms, the food, and the service were simply the best. I am not sure what I did for my group to get such a great hotel, but I am thankful.”


At Encore, we firmly believe that successful music programs and exceptional music travel experiences are intrinsically linked. This travel season, while marked by the tragic loss of James Smith, allowed us to honor his legacy by maintaining the high standard he set.

Despite the somber tone, it was heartening to witness many of James’ groups proudly sharing their talents with international audiences. As one group leader expressed, “The audiences were fantastic, making the musical experience truly memorable. The students felt so happy.”

Additionally, the competency and proficiency demonstrated by our team did not go unnoticed. Whether assisting with instruments or coordinating venues, their dedication was commendable. As echoed by one director, “The team’s professionalism was evident in every aspect – from instrument assistance to venue coordination. The timing of everything felt great, and I’m very pleased overall.”

These insights underscore our dedication to providing outstanding musical travel experiences, even amidst difficulties. As we press forward, we’re steadfast in upholding James’ legacy and ensuring the continuation of meaningful musical journeys for all our participants.

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