My name is Emma Hyatt and I am a 2015 graduate of Boone High School and a soon-to-be 2019 graduate of Luther College. I am the assistant principal double bass in the top orchestra at my school. The Luther College Symphony Orchestra traveled to Vienna, Austria, for a month-long residency where we rehearsed daily, studied the culture, and heard a lot of wonderful music. This trip had quite the price tag. I was a recipient of a PEO ELF loan which helped with those funds.

We got to experience quite a lot in the month that we were there including a ball, many performances, museums, and our own performances at the end of our trip.

In our free time we were able to explore the city. Some of the activities that I was able to take part in included going to the Staatsoper to see a few operas, visiting the Musikverein and the Konzerthaus to hear the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna Symphony perform, visiting a jazz club called Jazzland, and visiting many museums and palaces. The music in Vienna is everywhere and I was able to attend many concerts. Going to performances at these prestigious places can be costly, but in an effort to avoid spending as much there is an option for standing room tickets. These are exactly what they sound like — I would go and stand for the entire performance. I stood for a three-hour opera and for more than one symphony performance. It made for a long night, but the cost of a standing room ticket ranged from 3 euros to 7 euros which was significantly better than a 160 euro seat. It was very inspiring to be able to listen to and watch these performances.

As a group, my orchestra was also able to go to the 2019 Ball Der Offiziere at Hofburg Palace. This is a real ball that included ball gowns, tuxes, chandeliers, and a palace. It was a very unique experience. There were many rooms that were open to us in the palace, each with its own live music ranging from string quartets to big bands to pop groups. We also brought in an instructor to teach us how to do the Viennese Waltz in preparation for the ball. While none of us were very good at it, we still had lots of fun learning it and dancing it at the ball.

After much rehearsal we finished the trip with three performances. The first two were in Bratislava, Slovakia and Eisenstadt, Austria. Both of these performances were very fun to play. Our final performance was in the Musikverein of Vienna, Austria, and it was a truly amazing experience. The Musikverein is the home of the Vienna Philharmonic, one of the most prestigious orchestras in the world. The hall that we played in is called the Goldener Saal (Golden Hall) and it has golden statues lining the walls, frescoes painted on the ceiling, and intricate designs everywhere you look. It is considered one of the most important music halls in the world. For this performance about 1200 people nearly filled the entire hall. It was an experience that I will truly never forget.