Seven high school students from Nebraska City recently returned from the trip of a lifetime. The teens performed in seven countries in 16 days as part of the Nebraska Ambassadors of Music European Concert Tour.
Six musicians from Lourdes Central Catholic Schools and one Nebraska City High School student participated in the tour, which includes orchestra, choir and band performances.
Participants were Logan Bakula (flute and choir), Aubrey Bando (French horn and choir), Fernando Dominguez (tuba), Chloe DuBois (choir), Piper Monson (French horn and choir), Patrick O’Neil (baritone), and Luke Partsch (French horn and choir).

The student-musicians were nominated for the trip by their music teachers, based on musical ability, good citizenship and leadership skills. Participants spent a year raising funds, and they met in Fremont in early June for three days of intensive musical preparation.
Practically speaking, the students and their chaperones also practiced walking 15,000 steps per day in anticipation of lots of walking in Europe.
Local participants joined 258 other Nebraska students in performing in small venues and grand cathedrals. Luke Partsch says singing in cathedrals was his favorite part of the trip.
Piper Monson agrees, stating, “Making music with strangers and bonding with people in other countries was the best.”
In addition to their musical achievements, the students relished the opportunity to connect with different cultures. Chloe DuBois loved Switzerland and being surrounded by different cultures.
Much more than a fun tour of Europe for a group of teens, the trip had a deep emotional impact on the participants. The group recalls singing “Amazing Grace” in St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy, and seeing a local woman weeping as she listened to the music.
“I did not realize how much music can impact you and strangers around you,” DuBois relates.
The group did enjoy free time on the trip, including a dip in Lake Geneva, initiated by parent chaperone Tammy Partsch while the group was in Switzerland. A Swiss fondue party was a highlight for Luke Partsch, and the group also enjoyed the pizza in Venice.
Logan Bakula says jumping in Lake Geneva was her favorite part of the tour. “I also loved meeting the other participants. There’s a connection because we’re all from Nebraska,” states Bakula.
The group visited Paris, where they saw first-hand how the immigration crisis is affecting Europe, with families sleeping under overpasses.
Touring the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site near Munich, Germany also impacted the students and their chaperones.
Monson says the visit was overwhelming. DuBois agrees, stating, “I cannot describe the feelings as I walked through it.”
Despite the fact one of their performances was cancelled, due to terrorism concerns, before the group left for the tour, participants felt completely safe while traveling. They did miss air conditioning at first, but Bakula and DuBois say they quickly got used to not having it.
While the musicians are glad to be home, they plan to keep in touch with their fellow travelers from other parts of the state. For Tammy Partsch, a highlight of the tour was seeing how the students interacted with other Nebraskans.
Lourdes music and band director Lesley Gould anticipates trip participants will be closer friends and more skilled musicians when they return to the classroom this fall. She states, “I’m pleased and proud of my students as representatives of our school.”
Gould nominated the students because they showed a love for music and an adventurous spirit. For the students, the trip sparked a desire to travel more.
Whether singing in grand cathedrals, playing a concert in a park in London or spending time in small villages, the students gained not only valuable musical experience, but memories to last a lifetime.