February 19, 2019     Kate Huffman

Prelude 2019 in Review


This January, over Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend, a group of music directors and their guests joined Encore staff for Prelude 2019 in Milan and Cremona, Italy for a fantastic weekend filled with learning opportunities, networking with fellow directors, and a lot of fun!

Six individuals dressed in suits and dresses standing in front of a sign that reads

Prelude is Encore Tours’ professional development weekend for ensemble leaders, which takes place every year in an incredible, musically significant setting. The weekend is centered around the exploration of personal and professional development, offering unlimited opportunities for networking, cultural experience, and artistic development. Prelude is free for ensemble leaders (and one guest) who meet the number of international passengers traveling with Encore Tours to qualify. 

This year, Prelude attendees stayed in the fabulous Milan, Italy and took in sights like the incredible Duomo, saw Leonardo da Vinci’s original Last Supperand sample regional meats, cheeses, and wines. 

A woman being poured a glass of wine and smiling at the camera.

Musical highlights of Prelude 2019 included a guided tour of the Museo del Violino in Cremona, Italy where directors experienced a demonstration on original Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri instruments in an auditorium specially designed to capture their unique sound. The next day, Prelude attendees traveled to one of Milan’s most historic churches, where they experienced the sound of Ambrosian chant and learned about its technique and history. Finally, Prelude attendees received the chance of a lifetime and were led on a backstage tour of Teatro alla Scala, one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses, before enjoying a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata

Two women wearing black dresses standing in front of the empty grand stage at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy.

A luthier holding a violin giving a demonstration of the instrument to another individual.

In addition to the musical and cultural highlights of Prelude, directors had the opportunity to network and to learn from one another in our director’s workshop – this year on the road in our luxury coaches designed for communication and collaboration. Directors discussed issues specific to their ensembles such as pre-performance tour preparation, recruiting members to their ensembles and touring ensembles, how to grow audiences, and safety concerns of traveling musicians’ parents.

Check out what Encore Tours staff and Prelude attendees had to say about their Prelude 2019 experience!

We had a wonderful experience at Prelude in Milan this year with a fantastic group of dynamic and inspiring directors.  It’s always a highlight of the year for me to have the opportunity to spend quality time with our directors during Prelude and this year was no exception.  I so enjoy seeing clients that I’ve worked with for years again as well as getting to know directors who are new to Encore.  It’s such a unique opportunity for us all to share ideas and learn from one another while having once-in-a-lifetime experiences together, such as seeing La Traviata at La Scala in Milan.  Wow!  In addition to the weekend’s incredible itinerary, I really enjoyed hearing the group sing together in the beautiful Cremona Cathedral. – Sabrina Nikolov, Encore Tours

Three women posing on a rooftop with in the grand canal of Venice, Italy in the background.

“The trip was beyond my expectations. As a “detail” person, I was very impressed with the attentiveness to every detail. I was equally impressed with the warmth and people skills that each staff member possessed. That’s a recipe for a successful business.” – Robert Hobby, Director of Music, Trinity English Lutheran Church Chancel Choir

Prelude 2019 Attendees admire tall glass ceiling and tiled floor of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, Italy.

“Prelude is the perfect opportunity to experience the quality, style, professionalism, and detail-oriented care that Encore gives to every Tour and the performers undertaking the Tour.” – Susan Tevis, Artistic Director, Chico Community Choirs

A choral director stands in front of a choir and conducts a performance.

About the Welcome Dinner: “The food was incredible, but what I appreciated the most was the opportunity to sit and chat with my fellow directors.  They had some incredible insights into how to organize my trip, and I will definitely be heeding the counsel that I received from them.  They were both seasoned international tour leaders, so having the opportunities to learn from their experience was invaluable.” – Greg Ramsdell, Director, Heidelberg University Concert Choir

Prelude Attendees sitting around a table at the 2019 Prelude welcome dinner.

“Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!.  Susan and I had a wonderful time and are most appreciative of all the work that the Encore staff and the Italian staff contributed to such a memorable weekend.  We were able to connect with some colleagues from past Prelude trips and met many new wonderful musician/conductors/educators.  We had many helpful discussions on a number of subjects that included details of planning for trips along with musical issues and concerns.” – Gerry Dolan, Director of Fine Arts, Ipswich High School

All Prelude Attendees posing for a group photo in front of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy.

“The entire weekend was over-the top amazing! The venues were incredible and the food was excellent. The Encore staff was so friendly and fun. The amount of behind the scenes work showed in how seamlessly the weekend seemed to come off without a hitch. This year will be my first time doing a student tour with Encore. I and more excited than ever after the Prelude weekend!” – Joan Stewart, Director, Stewart Strings

A woman with blonde hair wearing a black coat smiling.

“I felt like a VIP! It was an amazing experience! Being a teacher means you are always in charge.  It was so nice to be able to simply enjoy the program provided. Everything was far beyond my highest expectations. Everything from food, to musical experiences, cultural experiences, to networking and making new friends… I appreciate the opportunity so much!” – Martha Weathers Brown, Founding Artistic Director, Voices in the Laurel

Click here to see more photos from Prelude 2019!

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