After a three-year hiatus from performance tours, the BYU Chamber Orchestra launched their 2022 tour to Europe this past week in Prague, Czech Republic. The group visited both the Prague Castle and old Jewish Quarter. The highlight of their visit was the opportunity to play to a sold-out audience at the renowned Smetana Hall—a venue that has hosted the world’s premier orchestras.
Following Prague, they traveled to Vienna, Austria, long considered to be the capital of classical music. Their first stop was the Vienna Central Cemetery, where the students, all of them music majors, visited the Mozart Memorial and the gravesites of Beethoven, Schubert, and Strauss. After lunch in the popular Naschmarkt, the students performed another successful concert, this time at Minoritenkirche.
On Sunday, the group attended church at a local congregation and then traveled up the mountain to Kahlenberg. This location is an important historical site for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because it is where the country of Austria was dedicated for the preaching of the gospel by apostle Elder Howard W. Hunter in 1992.
The group’s final event on Sunday—and a highlight of the week—was a humanitarian concert for Ukrainian refugees. Only two days prior, the orchestra’s director was contacted by BYU alumna Kim Magee, who managed to pull together a last-second concert, appropriately titled A Musical Prayer for Ukraine. In cooperation with Katholische Kirche Neuottakring and Father Lyubomyr Dutka, Magee worked tirelessly to invite hundreds of local refugees who have fled to Vienna to escape the horrors of the ongoing war with Russia. More than 100 refugees attended the concert, along with many of their supporters. After the concert, the BYU students were able to visit with many of the refugees individually to offer support and prayers.