Top 5 European Sites for your Student Performance Tour

Oct 28, 2014

Travel Notes

Europe is full of history, culture, and a wealth of beautiful, historic performance venues for student groups. With so many historic destinations to see, which are the best for your performance group? After years of successful European performance tours, we have compiled our top 5 European sites for your student performance tour:

1. Italy

Italy tops our list for its robust art history and spectacular performance venues – all features one would expect from the home of Michelangelo, Vivaldi, Puccini, and so many others.

In Rome, imagine your choir singing in St. Peter’s Basilica, designed in part by Michelangelo and frequented by the Pope. For marching bands, picture yourself marching past St. Peter’s Square in the New Year’s Peace Parade.

The one-of-a-kind parade also includes an opportunity to perform for enormous crowds in the square prior to the Pope’s annual New Year’s blessing. In Florence, your concert band or orchestra can delight audiences in the former courtyard of the Medici family, at the Palazzo Pitti.

When you aren’t performing, your students can explore historic sites like the Coliseum in Rome, Michelangelo’s David in Florence, and San Marco in Venice. The convenient location of Italy’s cities, combined with its world-class rail system and network of roads, make it easy to explore all that Italy has to offer during your performance group’s visit.

2. France

Paris is a favorite among student groups and offers spectacular performance opportunities as well. Your choir can sing at one of the world’s most recognized cathedrals, Notre-Dame de Paris. Bands and orchestras enjoy the opportunity to perform at L’eglise de la Madeleine, a Catholic church built in the style of a Greek temple.

After your performances, your group can take in world-renowned art at the Louvre, the Musèe d’Orsay, and others, or take in views of the city at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Strolls across the Seine, up the Champs-Èlysèes, and past the Arc de Triomphe, are must-sees. If you’d like to venture beyond the City of Light, the French countryside holds a wealth of quaint and equally historic venues for your group. Tour Monet’s gardens in Giverny, made famous in his paintings, or visit the beaches where Allied troops made their landing in Normandy.

3. Austria

Mountains, music, and history; Austria has it all. The birthplace of Mozart is rightfully filled with excellent performance venues as well. In the town of his birth, Salzburg, a choir can perform in the same place where Maria and the children sang “Do-Re-Mi,” the gardens of the beautiful Mirabell Palace. Also in Salzburg, ensembles can choose to perform at the Kirche St. Andrä, a soaring Neo-Gothic church which faces the palace.

Austria is a spectacular country in its own right. For an authentic Austrian Alps experience, start your visit in Innsbruck, where the 1976 Olympic Winter Games were held. As you move on toward Salzburg, take a day trip around the countryside to see the hills come alive, where The Sound of Music was filmed. Finish your journey in Vienna (Wien in German), and give your group the royal treatment, with a visit to Schönbrunn Palace – the perfect setting for a performance. Be sure to enjoy some Wienerschnitzel while you are in town!

4. England

Look no further than London for performance opportunities that are “fit for the Queen.” No choir could forego the opportunity to sing at St Paul’s Cathedral. Mary Poppins fans should be sure to feed the birds! The bustling shopping and entertainment of Covent Garden provides the backdrop for St. Paul’s Church, which welcomes performing groups under its ornate ceiling.

While in town, pose with the guards at Buckingham Palace, take a spin on the London Eye, and marvel at the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. Head over to the geographic center of London, Trafalgar Square, on your way to visit London’s most iconic sights, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Outside of London, stop and further your education in Oxford and Cambridge. Then, unwind after a hard day’s night, and head on up to visit The Cavern Club in Liverpool, where the Beatles got their start.

5. Ireland

The Emerald Isle may surprise some as a choice, but it definitely deserves a spot on our list, thanks in part to its rich history, stunning countryside, and solid performance opportunities.

No one really celebrates St. Patrick’s Day like Ireland, so naturally the Dublin St. Patrick’s Festival parade is an excellent opportunity for any marching band to show off their talent. If parades aren’t your cup of tea, two of the Ireland’s most beautiful churches provide excellent performance venues. Bands, orchestras, and choirs can perform at Christ Church, the seat of both the Roman Catholic archbishops of Dublin, and the Church of Ireland. Choral groups can fill the largest church in Ireland, St Patrick’s Cathedral, with their voices.

While you’re in Dublin, spend some time at the historic Kilmainham Gaol, but don’t worry; your group will be free to leave this historic prison when their visit is finished. Afterwards, take a stroll through St. Stephens Green on your way to Trinity College. While there, be sure to view the Book of Kells, which contains the original four gospels of the New Testament.

Head off to the Irish countryside to get a feel for the “real” Ireland in County Cork and County Kerry. No trip is complete without a visit to Blarney Castle, outside of Cork, to kiss the Blarney Stone and receive the gift of the gab (although we’ve found that most student groups don’t need much prompting where gab is concerned).

These European destinations rise to the top of our list for their historic, well-attended performance venues, student-friendly educational opportunities, and beautiful sights.

Interested in learning more? Contact us to request a customized itinerary today!

Tom Dillon, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Ireland, and Caro Uhlemann-Short, a German citizen and U.S. permanent resident, form the core of BRT’s international team. With over 50 years of combined experience, they are passionate about providing students with meaningful international performance opportunities.

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