Summit High musicians travel to France, Spain to perform, learn culture |

Summit High musicians travel to France, Spain to perform, learn culture

Special to the Daily
Special to the Daily |

Help the musicians get to Europe

The Summit High School music program is partnering with Ruby Tuesday’s Community GiveBack to raise money for a trip to Barcelona, Spain, and Nice, France. The restaurant, located at 270 Dillon Ridge Road, will host two more days of fundraisers, Friday, Nov. 14; and Wednesday, Nov. 19, with 20 percent of purchases with an accompanying flier going to the band and orchestra. Fliers must be printed, brought to the restaurant and presented when ordering. If you would like a flier, email Linda Shea at or call (970) 368-1117.

Every four years, the Summit High School instrumental music department carries its young musicians to far-off destinations to learn how music plays a role in other countries’ cultures. Next year’s trip will take the students to areas around Nice, France, and Barcelona, Spain, allowing them to interact and perform with professional musicians and explore the musical history of the areas.

“It’s something to look forward to in a big way,” said Linda Shea, director of instrumental music for Summit High. “My first year here was the previous trip we took to Europe, Vienna, Prague, Budapest. This time, I thought, let’s go to some countries that speak the languages that the kids are learning in school, so we chose Barcelona and the south of France.”


Shea performs with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic under music director Josep Caballe Domenech, and she said Barcelona was chosen as a destination because Caballe Domenech also conducts the orchestra there. During the weeklong excursion, students will present one concert in Nice and two in Barcelona, the latter possibly under the leadership of Caballe Domenech.

“He came up and conducted them last year in some rehearsals and they enjoyed working with him,” Shea said. “He has really high standards and he pushed the kids in a fun way. … We’re keeping our fingers crossed that he’ll be there. He conducts all over the world, so sometimes he gets called.”

The trip combines members of the jazz band, symphonic band and orchestra, performing as a whole group and in smaller ensembles. The concerts will have a mixed repertoire, from contemporary works, such as music from the movie “How to Train Your Dragon,” to more classical selections like Mozart’s Concerto for Horn, with some jazz to round it out.

About 35 students will be making the trip, Shea said, along with chaperones and a handful of professional musicians, who will rehearse and perform alongside the younger players.

“Some European musicians will combine with us to play, as well,” Shea said. “It makes the sound even bigger and better, and it will be a good way for the kids to interact with some professional musicians. I have some friends from Texas and Colorado Springs and Idaho and Düsseldorf, Germany, who will be joining us to play along with the kids.”

Summit High vocal music director Jeff Dixon said the troupe was in need of chaperone and a tuba player, so he will be dusting off his tuba to fill both roles.

“I played tuba in college, so it will be fun to re-learn it and get ready for the performances,” Dixon said, adding that he’s not nervous about picking up the instrument again. “Since I’ve been a music teacher, things come pretty quickly nowadays, so it won’t be too bad.

“We have opportunities to go to performances while we’re there, as well as our own performances that we’re a part of. Coming from Summit County in April, it’ll be a nice change from snowy winter time to sunny France and the French Riviera.”


Marco Reifsteck, a senior at Summit High, said he usually plays the violin, but he’s learning the upright bass to fill a need in the ensemble.

“My father is a professional musician; in his band, he plays the bass,” Marco said. “There’s only one other bass player on this trip, so I said, how about I learn how to play the bass so we have more than just one going on this trip?”

Music has had a big impact on Marco’s life ever since his parents adopted him, he said, and he enjoys being part of the orchestra because there are some pieces of classical music that he finds very touching.

“One of my favorites is ‘Schindler’s List,’” he said. “The solo part from the first violin in that piece is really touching. Just being able to play music that was written hundreds of years ago I feel like is very special.”

Though he’s traveled to Italy and Sicily with his family in the past, Marco said he’s hoping this trip will teach him more about how the music of France and Spain influences people in those countries.

“Some of the pieces we’re playing originated from some of these countries, so I feel like it will be really special to see what they think about us playing their music,” he said.

Marco’s brother David Reifsteck, a junior, will also be traveling with the band and orchestra. David plays the violin and guitar and is picking up both piano and ukulele.

“It’s cool how it’s a mental thing,” he said of the violin, which will accompany him to Europe. “You have to control both your right hand and your left hand like the guitar. You have to switch up the bow strokes, and the left hand you press on the string and that’s what note you’re play. I find that kind of cool how you have to be really focused on exactly what you’re doing with both sides of your brain.”

Though the group hasn’t started rehearsing any of the music that will be performed in Barcelona and Nice, David said he’s already fascinated by what he will learn on the trip, both musically and culturally, and he’s thankful for the opportunity.

“I’ve never been there before, so it’s going to be a whole new experience,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like over there and tasting the food and seeing all the different places and stuff like that, being a tourist. I’m taking Spanish in school, so I think I’ll give it a little go when I’m over there, why not?”


Alex Mason, also a junior, started his musical career in grade school when he picked up the clarinet, later transitioning to the saxophone and then to oboe when he reached high school.

“I’ll be playing oboe in Europe, my main instrument,” he said. “I like it because it has a piercing sound and it stands out compared to the rest of the orchestra and I like the solo aspect of it; oboe is given a lot of solos.”


Being a part of the orchestra is a nice break from his other classes, Alex said, a more free-flowing chance to express himself and be creative in the way he plays the music. He said he’s never been to Europe, so it will be an entirely new experience for him.

“I think it’ll be interesting to see how people play music in different parts of the world,” Alex said. “I’ve heard that the way you go about playing and writing and thinking about music is different, especially in Spain, than America, and it’ll be interesting to compare the two ways that people think about music.”

Alex’s mom, Karen, said her son has known that the high school only takes this trip every four years, and he started talking about how excited he was to go when he was still in middle school.

“It’s a great opportunity that Alex will not only be able to do something that he loves and is so passionate about but to get to go to Europe with his peers — I’m a little jealous that I wasn’t able to take him to Europe first,” she said with a laugh.

“It’s been an amazing thing to watch how much music has become so important in his life.”

Traveling is a good way for the students to gain some perspective on the rest of the world and gives them a new perspective on their own world, as well, Shea said.

“They get to see and meet people from other countries, play music with people and realize how universal it is,” she said. “You can be from anywhere in the world and still make music together even if you don’t speak the same language.”

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