January 4, 2018     Sabrina Nikolov

Site Inspection: Germany and the Netherlands


One of the many fantastic opportunities Encore Tours offers its Directors is a pre-tour trip called a site inspection. We can offer site inspections to Directors of larger groups who wish to go to the country that they’ll be touring to see the venues, hotels, and other logistical aspects before they bring their ensemble on tour. It’s a great way to make any changes necessary before the actual trip and make sure that the Director and the group are very happy with the plans in place!

I had the good fortune of accompanying one of our traveling Directors, Marion van der Loo, and her partner and accomplished organist, Alice Edwards, on a site inspection to the Netherlands and Germany this past October. Marion is in her 12th season as Music Director of the Springfield Choral Society based in Springfield, IL and this will be her 3rd tour with Encore.

Initially, one of the main reasons Marion and Alice were interested in doing a site inspection was for Alice to be able to play the organs at the venues ahead of time and have a sense of what the site lines were as well as the types of organs available. However, during the site inspection, we were able to iron out a few other details as well, which proved to be hugely important for the success of the overall tour.

Collage of three photos. Left: Marion, Alice, and Sabrina pose on a wooden footbridge in front of a marsh with windmills in the background on an overcast day. | Middle: Marion and Alice pose for a photo inside the elaborate St. Bavo Cathedral, which houses the famous Muller organ with its bright red and gold accents at the altar | Right: Sabrina poses in front of a windmill wearing comically giant wooden clogs at the Zaanse Schans.

We started the inspections in the charming city of Delft and worked our way up to Amsterdam, followed by a hop on the train to Hamburg for the last 2 nights. We stayed at the group’s proposed hotels so that Marion and Alice would be familiar with the quality and location of each hotel. In Delft and in Hamburg, they were very pleased with the hotels, however, in Amsterdam, they found the location of the hotel a bit too far away from the city center and requested that we find another option, which of course we were able to do!

Additionally, they were so charmed by the lovely city of Haarlem, where they will be performing, that they decided to add a couple of nights right in Haarlem. They wouldn’t have known how much they enjoyed Haarlem had it not been for the opportunity to visit it on this site inspection. Alice played many organs during the site inspection, among them the Old Church in Delft, the famous Muller organ at St. Bavo Cathedral in Haarlem, the Westerkerk in Amsterdam, and St. Petrikirche in Hamburg. We were able to figure out which organs and venues worked best for the concert tour in June, which was definitely the most important aspect of the site inspection. 

Alice playing the organ at St. Petrikirche in Hamburg

Alice playing the organ at St. Petrikirche in Hamburg

In addition to ironing out the tour details, site inspections really do generate excitement for the trip in general and can help with recruiting more participants to go on the tour. Once the Director has been to the venues and places that are included on the trip, it truly allows them to share this enthusiasm with the ensemble by sharing photos and stories.

In Marion’s words, “The site inspection gave us energy and excitement about the tour next June. We’ve told everyone what’s in store for them and they’re excited as well. It was an incredibly helpful trip and every detail of it was just as our previous concert tours have been. I really can’t thank Encore enough.”

Alice, Sabrina, and Marion pose for a photo in front of Hamburg Town Hall, whose exterior features neo-renaissance style architecture.

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