NEW TRIER BLOG
Just outside Gaffney Auditorium, nearly 200 orchestra, band and choir members await the arrival of tour buses to begin our trip abroad. “The halls are alive…with the sound of musicians”. Whether it’s a state swimming championship, a science Olympiad, or this journey to Australia, New Trier’s creative forces produce historic results.
Twenty hours of flight time allows people to get caught up with many aspects of their lives, whether
It be correspondence or the dusty novel removed from the shelves at home. It is possible that we will have an expert in Babylonian by arrival. Much of the group is on a brand new A380, the double decker
Airbus seating 450, and offering individual ipads (or close equivalent) which will show films of all categories, games, news, whatever. I chose two Oscar winning films and still had time to redecorate
My row of eight chairs.
Walking off is an experience akin to what Rod Blagojevic will appreciate 15 years hence…a yearning for freedom realized at long last. Strolling through Sydney Airport is not terribly different from most major hubs, but the outdoors is permeated with the essences of ocean air. The tour vehicles gobble up 200+ bodies and a greater number of instruments. Without their rigid frames, this caravan would look like a line of extravagantly pregnant guppies. Driving along, we see unusual flora, different billboards, and seatmates share individual thoughts, but a unanimous cheer erupts when we spy the tips of the Opera House “sails”. This is surpassed as we cross the iconic bridge over the crenulated expanse of Sydney Harbour, which is busy even on a Sunday morning with water craft of every sort.
North of the harbor, we begin our first traversal of the peninsula which boasts beaches of pristine beauty with burnished gold sands and water so clear you’d swear mankind had not yet appeared on this
Pittwater High buildings are low profile, lightly colored brick structures tucked in amidst lots of piney trees and low shrubs, blending wonderfully in the environment. Martin Hardy, the music director, welcomes us and Kathy Small has masterfully organized the homestays. Host families gradually arrive
And pair up with students; each set departs amidst applause. The welcome is so genuine that, without exception we feel like royalty. Over the next few hours of daylight we catch sightings of one another on beaches and in the streets. What good fortune to swim, or stroll up to a lighthouse in this spectacular setting we will call home for better than a week.
Odds and ends for the day:
Mass chuckle when we see a sign for an auto repair shop, here known as “Smash Ups” or panel beaters.
A positive sighting of a sunning penguin lures a bunch of us to the rocks. At the last moment, it takes wing. One student, with a wink, says we’ve just seen the amazing Australian flying penguin (turns out to have been a “shag”, a small cormorant).
An SUV pulls alongside our car sporting what appears to be a periscope. Rick Mitchell, our host, identifies it as a snorkel, essential when driving through flood waters. Joint sales venture anyone? Under Winnetka Ave or Pratt Ave overpasses this July could make a fortune. The Paine family already has a bassoon.
You would be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t sleep well since we were under orders not to nap and to be in bed by 9pm. Complying with the first order was brutal. The latter was so effortless that the opportunity to say “G’nite mate” was lost.
Buses head south from Pittwater and we barely contain our enthusiasm. Every kilometer offers something fresh, like a small flock of sulfur-crested cockatoos on a rugby field, estimated value $40,000 USA. Bruce Daugherty sees his creditors dropping away like flies. He then cannot be bothered as he mends a French horn which was damaged en route. Students come first for him—we hope he doesn’t miss a herd of ‘roos because of his selflessness.
First stop of the day is at North Head overlooking the entrance to Sydney harbor. At approx. 100 meters,
This and the South Head magnificently frame the westward view to the city skyline and all the surrounding natural beauty. It is a perfect photo opportunity, and terabits of images are created in individual, small group, and grand portraits. A line of twenty guys prepares to jump on cue. Some go high, some stay low, and some are left behind. Louise Hardy, Bus 2 guide, with a twinkle in her eye comments “I hope their musical efforts are a tad more unified”. Tacked end-to-end, the boys’ smiles are broader than the mouth of the harbor.
We head toward Manly Beach, so named because an early settler (1820’s) was approached by a group of 20 fearsome indigenous men who were personable, wished to trade, and behaved in a “manly” way.
We are told this is not beach time and are most strongly advised to get lunch now with rehearsals looming. Some compliant ones do so leisurely or if hungry grab two fisted. Everyone is back to the beach ASAP and the numbers getting wet grow exponentially. What the hey, we’re in Austray!
Back to school for rehearsal, and a couple of hours later, the students are whisked home by their hosts to experience fabulous outdoor activities, dining surprises, culminating in heads collapsed on pillows which enfold our own otherworldly dreamtimes.
After three hours of rehearsal, we head toward the ocean. Newport Beach is equipped to handle the lunch needs of nearly 50% of us, and we bring our fried foods and worthless carbohydrates on board the buses, ravenous but we cannot soil the transport. A burger is nearly 1000 kJ’s(that’s kilojoules, not calories) It’s so easy to deny our sins when it’s metric.
Warning! Warning! John Schultess the tour master says “ beware the dangerous Australian waters. All swimming must be conducted between two flags under lifeguard supervision. We do not want to retrieve your bloated corpse from the water in two weeks”. That got our attention. I guess reefs and rips will rock ‘n roll you.
Palm Beach is famous for the filming of the British soap “Far and Away”. Locals have nicknamed it “Take it Away” because the hoopla of stars and equipment disturbs the peace. “Baywatch” did the same thing and even offered major municipal improvements as an enticement to broaden filming.
“Fuggedaboudit!” Beach residents didn’t want more of the world to know about the area’s charms and its idyllic nature is presently preserved.
We get off at the north end of “Palmy”, and its outcrop Barrenjoey Head is looms with a lighthouse. There is a lengthy stretch of sand southward and if one squints hard enough, there are what appear to be two teeny protozoan flagella flapping. Those must be the flags and the Exodus sets off across the expanse. New Trier finally has a marching band straggling out over a kilometer. It’s fun to see one after another run into the water until the “legal” space is chock full of bodysurfers, and the waves are great.
Saltwater gets everywhere so no nettipots will be necessary at days end. One backpack and tennis shoes are reclaimed from the sands by vigilant chaperones, and we trudge back across the dunes, encouraged from the rear by our leader Peter “Lawrence of Arabia” O’Rosheger.
After a quick refresher at host homes, the kids return for an evening concert at Pittwater High. Nearly every seat is set up, the refreshment stand is raking in dough, and at 7pm, the New Trier Symphonic Wind Ensemble offers its 40 minute program. After four sparkling pieces, Matt Temple is absolutely the happiest many have ever witnessed as he hands the baton to Bruce Daugherty for Susa’s march, a resounding conclusion which affirmed the brother/sisterhood of our countries and cities.
Martin Hardy leads the North Shore Concert Winds, a group of young and mature veterans whose tremendous sound and selections add to the diversity and delight of the evening programming. The audience devours this second course and further delights are mouth-wateringly close.
Tim Dohrer comes front and center and expresses gracious thanks to our hosts. His descriptions of the history of New Trier and its accomplishments are concise and sincere, and his desire to extend in perpetuity the warm relations across the seas reflects all our hearts.
Rosh and his bunch dive into Bernstein; Patty Rohrer reacquaints us with the joys of Grainger, and Copeland caps it all. Even the weather cooperates as a serious downpour assaults the metal roof of the auditorium (gymnasium). A bit on, during a decrescendo, the deluge abates, the dynamic approaches piano, and the last few drips of the storm are heard pianissimo. We rename the piece Australian Spring.
Our first stop is in the shadows of “the bridge” for photographs with the Opera House across the harbor. When the entire NT troupe is finally arranged in tiers, the photographer has everyone say “Sydney”. Next symphony, then band, and finally choir are done, and choir spirit wins, for sure, with cheers as loud as a football stadium section, and antics by David Ladd and Susan Vaughn.
While the smaller groups pose, it is fun to watch the rest of our mob milling about the rolling lawn with lots of photo ops, gamboling about in groups on the grassy expanse. Clearly, all batteries have been fully recharged.
We’ve been lucky with just a bit of overcast but the heavens open as we drive to and walk into Paddy’s market. The prospect of Pacific payola drives hunters through windswept torrents—with quarry of purses, hats, T-shirts and stocking stuffers, basement bargains all. The food court has equally kaleidoscopic offerings, lacking only Sri Lankan fare and Boston baked beans. Sadly, we lack the facilities to do a quick soup with the raw cod heads.
A dry fifteen minute walk on the wharf takes us toward our ferry. Mayors Emanuel and all before him would have sold their souls to have an asset like Sydney Harbour in Chicago. Were they to be transported here to Sydney, Navy pier and Michigan Avenue would be the “American Exhibit” in this World’s Fair of a place.
We board a huge catamaran, back out of the berth, and head toward a close encounter with the Opera House. In photos, the roofs have always appeared sail-like, in shape and texture. In fact, interlocking tiles and metallic spacers impart a hitherto unknown geometric beauty. Botanic gardens stand close but apart from the Opera House and together these attractions are the yin and yang of man-made and natural beauty.
Cruising around the harbor in a gentle rain bothers no one for you can join in the ruckus of myriad conversations or stroll the deck to see eight-figure real estate holdings of families like the Murdochs, Nicole Kidman, Geoffrey Rush—the harbor for winter and the North Shore (Manly to Palm Beach) in summer. Great weather and great water have built this place, like Monaco or Lake Como, so lush is the vegetation around the multistoried homes with private beaches and docks, no two of which are exactly alike.
Sydney’s sister city is San Francisco, sharing sun, hills, and an island jail in shark-infested waters. They one-upped us with prisoners hung for display. That was a century ago, but ya never know for sure.
Back on land, the Opera House beckons and we stroll past hundreds of sight seers eager to be more than just that. Passes permit us to enter inner sancta like the “green room”, where tuning is done; there are sound checks and just relaxing before the show. Our kids KNOW how to relax and the joint gives ‘em a pool table, good food; there are cards and fast hand games and lots of exploring. Naps, no way. Thank the Fine Arts Association again for formal ware, because the concert hall is incredible. If you can imagine a more gorgeous and inspiring space, no one would believe you as the ceiling soars, what, 200 feet? The organ pipes in their prominent space facing the conductor gleam in polished steel, and the walls feel a bit like the inside of a massive hand hewn hull of aboriginal oversize timbers. 700 seats look like carefully arranged Spanish peanuts in their reddish smallness, and an equal number in the back balcony are appealing because of the equality of seating—no nose bleeds. On the wings, there are no loges, but again four or five sets, on each side, of 50-60 seats with total open views of the giant, warm cavern. Some of us are seated in the chorus loft and will see the conductors expressions during performance, a rare treat for the uninitiated. 2700 seats in all and that’s just the main hall. A few smaller venues exist on the side and currently offer a broad range of entertainment. Clearly, artists love coming to this place as the billboards proclaim visits by great ones soon to come.
Pittwater High, in its natty all-black outfits starts the evening under the direction of its assistant conductor. Three pieces later, after a gig on the euphonium, Martin Hardy wraps up a tremendously
Energetic and fun set.
Mr. Temple and his Symphonic Wind Ensemble give a twenty-one gun salute to the glory of band music.
And this is the right place to do it.
The Concert Choir serves up a broad and inviting repertoire and the eyeball-to-eyeball contact of the singers with Mr. Ladd and Ms. Vaughn made the pieces dance, pray, cry and shout for joy.
March 26, 2012
We are sitting outside Pittwater high school, listening to the symphony orchestra rehearse. We were just given a mini-tour of the hospitality classroom. It is like a cooking class. The facility here is really nice. The hospitality teacher was very friendly. A bell just rang and now a bunch of students are outside. I think it is their recess or lunch time. We are going to try and mingle with the students now. They look very friendly. Signing off,
Australia is amazing! The ocean has the biggest waves we’ve ever seen and their winter is basically our summer. Both of our host families are fantastic and they have the best food! Barbies on the grill! The lifestyle here is so relaxed and chill. It’s not uncommon to see people walking around barefoot around town or in the grocery store. Tomorrow is our big night at the Sydney Opera House; can’t believe it’s finally here! It looks even more amazing than it does in Finding Nemo! (42 Wallaby Way, Sydney)
Right now we’re at Pittwater High School waiting to go to the beach. Both the band and orchestra had rehearsals this morning and we have a concert tonight. Everyone has been welcoming and we’ve gotten a lot of attention because of our accents! Especially for the word “water.” “Apparently we say it strangely. We’re adjusted to the time change fairly well. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be; 31 hours of travel time gives you plenty of time to rest. But for now we’re making some awesome new Australian friends and trying to pick up some Aussie lingo.
See you soon Chicago!
Cristina Foschi and Sarah Davidson
G’day everybody this is Danielle Fraser! (and Anya……..) :/ Anyway we had an amazing day at Sydney Harbor and at the Queen Victoria Building. Hi guys its ANNA. Sydney is so nice and warm! Sunday was so much! My host family took us to the mall! It was so nice and big. Oh and Target is so expensive here! I was a little shocked! Then we went surfing with Grace, our host family’s daughter and her friend Ella. It was SO MUCH FUN! I was kind of good at it! I couldn’t open my eyes for like 10 minutes because of the salt water :P But it was fun!! I love surfing! I’ll try it again one day! We had a great day today at the Wildlife Reserve Downtown. I FINALLY SAW A KOALA AND A KANGAROO!!! It was cool! Apparently there are 3 kangaroos for every 1 person in Australia! The koalas were so lazy and adorable. Hi guys it’s DANIELLE now, I got to take a picture with a koala named Elle, she was the cutest thing ever! Anna here! I only got to see them from afar L BUT I did get ALMOST pecked by an EMU! Haha it was awesome! I also pet a snake… it was weird. Then I pet a lizard. Then we played on a playground at Darling Harbour. Honestly…I’m kind of ready to go home!! I miss you mom and dad! Me too mom and dad, love Danielle! Save travels everybody! Gnite!
Hey! Abby G here. I haven’t blogged in a while so there are a few new highlights to talk about. First of all, on Saturday we had Butterbeer flavored shave ice (snow cone). For those people who don’t know, Butterbeer is from Harry Potter, it’s not actually alcoholic obviously. Sunday was the last day with our host families. Danielle and I went to Taronga Zoo with our host family, the Hassanens. We saw free roaming kangaroos and adorable koalas in trees so close! Also we saw a Tazmanian Devil, which looks nothing like Taz from Looney Tunes, but was really cute. I will miss my host family so much, they were amazing and really made our trip comfortable. They were also very welcoming. Today was our last day. We shopped at Queen Victoria Building and Darling Harbour. At the wildlife park we took our picture with a real koala, named Elle. She was soft and I want to keep her! Ok well bye Australia!!
This is Audrey!!! Hey J Today is the last night in Australia so before we leave I wanted to state everything I would miss like I did when I left the Philippines. I’m going to miss the koalas, the kangaroos, all of the birds, Michael’s boat, diving in Elvina Wharf, going on the speed boat, seeing the Gill-Andrews family, singing Disney songs, Darling Harbor, Sydney Opera House, hanging out with everyone from Concert Choir, Symphonic Band and Symphony Orchestra, Pittwater high school, souvenir shopping, VEGEMITE (yes I’m not lying), Just Juice, watching The Hunger Games in the cinema, talking in an American-Australian accent, the nice busdrivers and ferry drivers in Pittwater, the many beaches, the great weather, emus, Concert Choir songs, Paddy’s Market, Crunchies, Violet Crumbles, Tim Tams and milk, no homework, Australian accents and slang and having the time to enjoy staying at this beautiful country. Seriously I don’t want to leave J G’day!
Hi this is Elisabeth, Barbara, Emily, Rachel, Rong, and Megan (big group huh?)!!! Today we went back to Sydney to go to Queen Victoria Mall. Swanky place. We saw the statue of Queen Victoria, window shopped, and bought Tim-Tams. Megan even bought her prom dress!! Then, we explored Darling Harbor and went to Wild Life Sydney (a zoo). We took pictures of just about everything and had loads of fun! Some of us even got pictures with koalas!! But one of our highlights was the crocodile feeding. The croc was 5m long and named Rex. He leapt into the air to grab meat from the feeding sticks!! After Wild Life Sydney, some of us got coffee and yummy crepes and had heaps of fun trying on hats in all the stores. Some of us went to McDonald’s and an ibis was strutting around eating food and pooping. Appetizing, right? Tonight, we are having a fun time packing and already missing Australia. Most of us leave at 4:30 AM tomorrow and have 11 hours of layover. But we’re looking forward to seeing our families soon!! G’Day!! J
It’s KTowns again… I am past where I thought I could go right now. I’m stressed because people keep messing with me and my business and I’m trying to cool off and they follow me and try to hug me and it’s just… it’s just… I’m past where I thought I could go. I have had a cappuccino, and two hot chocolates, and I’m going to pull an all-nighter because we leave at 4:30 in the morning, but right now, I am just past where I thought humanly possible… I’ll see you guys in Chicago if I haven’t blown up by then.
Great feeling going home. Very memorable trip. Gottu know new Australian friends as well as New Trier Kids. Not very good wii-fii at the airport – David
This has been an amazing trip. I’m so sad to leave but I’m excited to get home. –Emma
What Emma said. –Arthur
What Arthur said.—Bob
I had so much fun here. I’m not excited to go back to school but I’m excited to go back home and take a 15 hour nap.- Stella
Australia is such an amazing country! I’m incredibly sad to go home, but I am looking forward to a nice shower and my own room. –Sophie
Although Australia is seriously lacking free wi-fi, water fountains and trash cans, I love this country! But I’m excited to go home and take the longest shower ever. –Sarah D
Australia is a truly amazing, wonderful, generous, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful country. Although everything here is quite expensive (except for 30 cent ice creams at mcdonalds) I had the best time here. – Sensei Ben Lee.
Australia was an amazing place with incredibly friendly people and great hospitality. I’m sad to leave, and I’ll miss my host family so much! –Spencer Moy