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Children's chorus members like the sound of music in Austria

By Blair Ames, bames@tribune.com

6:30 AM EST, January 10, 2014

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Alexa Haymen says she has always been a fan of "The Sound of Music." Now, she will have the opportunity to visit Austria this summer as a member of the Children's Chorus of Carroll County.

Voce Viaggio, which means "Traveling Voices" in Italian, is a group of middle and high school-aged students with the Children's Chorus that will be performing in Vienna and Salzburg, Austria, and Prague in the Czech Republic this summer.

"I want to see Salzburg, where it [the movie] was actually taking place and also experience the different cultures in Vienna, Salzburg, and Prague," said Alexa, who is 12.

"The Sound of Music" is a 1959 musical which tells the story of a young Austrian woman who cares for the seven children of a widower, teaching them to love music in the process. It is perhaps best known as a 1965 movie starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

The Children's Chorus has taken an international trip every three years since 2003, according to Diane Jones, the group's artistic director and co-founder.

The chorus was founded in 1985.

Annually, the chorus stages two major concerts, one in the winter and one in the spring.

In addition to its December performance, the group also sang the national anthem at a Baltimore Blast game earlier this month. Its spring concert will be held at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Eldersburg.

Jones said this is the first year the chorus will visit a German country after previously visiting Estonia, Finland, Sweden and England.

"I try to always have the broadest cultural exposure I can get for the children," she said of taking her students to Austria and the Czech Republic this year.

While the Children's Chorus is comprised of about 130 families, only 19 children will be participating in the trip this year, the smallest contingent from the chorus to travel abroad, Jones said.

Students leave for Europe on June 23.

Among those 19 are Alexa, Benjamin Spang, 13, and Annika Rudolph, 11. All three said they are excited about the opportunity to travel Europe.

"I like all the opportunities because there are different places to sing," Annika said of being in the chorus.

While on tour, students will participate in choral festivals in Vienna, Salzburg and Prague. They will be directed by Henry Leck, an internationally recognized choral director from Butler University, and will sing a variety of choral selections, including some in German in Latin.

Jones said the songs are a "big challenge" for her students, but they've been working to learn them since September.

"There's just so much music to learn," she said. "But we've got months to go."

The students admitted the music has been hard to learn, but they enjoy the challenge.

"There have been some parts of the music where I was like, 'Oh my gosh,' " Annika said.

The 10-day trip costs about $4,000 per student, and families are primarily responsible for fundraising.

To help out, the chorus will host one of its major fundraisers for the trip Sunday, Jan. 12, with a showing of "The Sound of Music" at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster.

Doors open at 2 p.m., with the movie beginning at 2:30. Tickets are $8.

Moviegoers are invited to wear costumes of their favorite characters.

Jones said the event is a "very major" fundraiser for the trip.

"We really hope to generate some buzz in the community," she said.

In addition to the movie fundraiser, the chorus will host a Flawless Fashion Show on March 29 at Grace Lutheran Church in Westminster featuring children's clothing.

To learn more about the Children's Chorus of Carroll County, go to http://www.ccccnotes.com.