The BYU Chamber Orchestra kicked off its three-week tour across Europe with a sold-out performance in Prague at the renowned Smetana Hall. The group then traveled to Vienna, where they visited the graves of Beethoven, Schubert, and Strauss and gave another successful concert. On Sunday, they performed in a last-minute concert titled A Musical Prayer for Ukraine, organized by BYU alumna Kim Magee. More than 100 Ukrainian refugees were in attendance, along with many of their supporters. Orchestra member Sarah Francis said, “Following the concert, we were able to greet the audience members. So many tender hugs, conversations, and silences were shared. . . . This concert touched the lives of hundreds of people who were suffering, and we were able to help them find some peace.”
During their second week, the orchestra performed at two stunning cathedrals in Italy, Chiesa di Sant’Antonio Abate in Milan and Chiesa di Ognissanti in Florence. These concerts were attended by community members, local government leaders, church members, university leaders, and fellow BYU study abroad students. In addition to performing, the orchestra visited some of the finest sights in Europe, including Neuschwanstein Castle, the Duomo di Milano, da Vinci’s The Last Supper, and Michelangelo’s David.
The last stop on the tour was Rome, where the BYU Chamber Orchestra received an unforgettable invitation. Elder Alessandro Dini Ciacci, area seventy and representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Italy, arranged a concert featuring the orchestra to thank the local and humanitarian organizations with whom the Church collaborates. Notable guests in attendance included Lucio Malan, senator of Italy; Stefano Prili and Paola Contavalli, councilors of the Italian Red Cross of Rome; and Tim Hunter, director of private sector partnerships and fundraising for the United Nations World Food Programme. Recalling the performance, one member of the orchestra said, “When we finished playing the fourth movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, I could hear our sound traveling up to heaven, and I felt that our Heavenly Father was extremely proud [of us] and thankful for our service.”