July 31, 2019     Jon Linker

Encore Tours Spotlight: 2019 FAM Trip to Eastern Europe


Encore Tours recently hosted a 7-day familiarization (FAM) trip to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, to highlight the culture, food and numerous fantastic venues that this region offers music ensembles. 

Four music directors or ensemble representatives plus one spouse joined Encore staff on the tour which included stops in Budapest, Bratislava and Prague, visits to 17 concert venues and a performance by one of Encore’s traveling ensembles.

In order to give the participants an accurate picture of what Encore offers, the group stayed in centrally-located hotels used by Encore clients, ate at restaurants and enjoyed activities featured on our tours and saw a performance by the outstanding Woodward Academy Choir, an Encore client, at St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest.

Woodward Academy Choir at St. Stephen’s Basilica Budapest

“I wasn’t sure if this was our next destination for a tour, “said Keith Timms, Director of Choral Activities at Erskine College in South Carolina. “I’m much more informed now. Seeing the venues was very helpful. I was also anxious to see how Encore compared to the other companies I’ve worked with in the past. It was a very comfortable fit.”

Highlights in Budapest included numerous concert venues, a guided visit to St. Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion, a Danube River cruise and a Folklore Show dinner complete with live gypsy music and dancing.

Budapest Venues

Next stop was the Slovakian capital of Bratislava with its wonderful Old Town which was packed with locals and tourists enjoying a folklore festival. Within the Old Town are several beautiful churches often used for choir concerts and our group also visited the Slovak Radio Hall, a first-class 500-seat venue for orchestral and instrumental ensembles.

Bratislava venues

Leaving Slovakia, the group stopped for lunch in the picturesque town square of Telc, a UNESCO World Heritage site, en route to Prague. Situated midway between Prague and Vienna, Telc is a perfect rest stop for groups traveling through the region.

Highlights in Prague included a guided visit to Prague Castle and St. Vitus’s Cathedral and a walk through the Castle district, across the Charles Bridge and into Old Town Square. The group visited numerous venues along the way including churches, the Czech Museum of Music and Smetana Hall in the Municipal House.

Venues and scenes from Prague

Bob and Lynn Syverson, from Waukesha Wisconsin, thought the trip was a valuable experience. Lynn is a founding member of Jubilate Chorale, a semi-professional community chorus, while Bob is a retired music educator, professional trumpet player and leader of his own brass group. They are considering traveling together with their ensembles.

“It was the area we were interested in doing a tour,” Bob said.  “It would feel weird organizing it not having been there. This trip provided a level of familiarity.”

“We’ve been talking about traveling as our director thought our music would go over well in this area,” said Cheryl Meiser of Harrison VOCE, a community choir in Harrison Ohio. “I’d never been to Europe before. You guys did a wonderful job of organizing everything.”

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