Faith and Fellowship in Germany

Synthesis gathers with student big bands from Utrecht, Netherlands, and Stuttgart, Germany, after a combined performance.

After a wonderful two days at Jazzfest am Dom in Trier, Germany, it was almost time for BYU Synthesis to begin their journey home. Before heading back to the airport in Amsterdam, Synthesis attended a meeting of the local branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Trier, where two members of Synthesis, Chase Kimball and Jens Watts, gave talks in German. While there, the trumpet section performed a rendition of “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” arranged by Synthesis trumpet player Luke Gunnerson. This experience, following their final performance of the tour, was an excellent reminder of who these students are, beyond their musical capabilities. 

In Amsterdam, the group attended a special tour of the Anne Frank House. The in-depth presentation there took the group into the story of Anne Frank’s life. The presentation ended with a powerful reminder that Anne is known and remembered only because we have her writings. Millions of stories similar to hers have been forever lost. The prejudices that prevailed during World War II did not end when the war ended, and we must do our best to continue to root out racism and prejudices from ourselves and our communities. 

Trevor Smith of BYU Synthesis wails at the end of his solo, while Synthesis director Ben Nichols looks on.

Following the visit to the Anne Frank House, Synthesis explored Dutch art history at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which houses works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh. Students were able to closely study the masterful brush strokes left by these artists, drawing inspiration for their own journey in mastering the instruments they play and the art they create through music. 

Synthesis created some powerful waves in the European jazz community, and they hope to continue to do so on future international tours. The members of Synthesis grew as musicians and performers as they took master classes from some of the best jazz artists in the world, provided workshops to aspiring musicians, and performed alongside jazz bands of all calibers. Lasting friendships were made, and good things are to come for the students of Synthesis. 

An audience in Utrecht, Netherlands, applauds Synthesis.

Immediately following their return, Synthesis recorded a brand-new album featuring the pieces they played on tour, with many original arrangements by students in the group. This album will soon be available on Spotify and other streaming platforms found at

BYU Synthesis members Garrett Geddes and Chase Kimball (right) look out over Trier, Germany, from inside Porta Nigra, a Roman structure built in the second century AD.

Unfazed by the rain, Hanna Eyre (left) and Ann Bateman of BYU Synthesis explore the beautiful Keukenhof Tulip Gardens in the Netherlands.