Turner tours Europe with MO student band

Libby Turner and her mom, Betsy, at the Matterhorn in Switzerland.

An Arcadia Valley High School student was among a group of Missouri musicians who toured Europe this summer for a series of concerts.

Libby Turner, the daugher of Corby and Betsy Turner of rural Arcadia, was nominated by her band instructor, Charles Lee, for the tour, organized by Voyagers International. The company has been arranging such tours for over 40 years. Students must be nominated by their music directors to participate. The nominations are based on such things as playing ability (Libby plays the trumpet) and character.

Some 32 states are involved in the annual program.

Libby’s group was made up of over 230 students, leaders and parents (Libby’s mom also participated), who  began their experience at Fontbonne University in St. Louis with three days of practice.  The group left on June 15 for 16 days of tour through five countries, England, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany.  Libby said they “stopped for lunch” in Liechtenstein, but did not perform there. There was also an unscheduled performance in Italy.

Both daughter and mother said the whirlwind trip was incredible and incredibly tiring. Libby said it included a number of firsts for her - first airplane ride and first cab ride.

The latter was one she hailed in London, where they had enough free time to also visit Windsor Castle and the changing of the guard, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye (a huge Ferris Wheel) and Piccadilly Circus.

The schedule was tight and well-managed, Betsy said. Travel was by the same chartered bus and driver the entire trip. “Our (Austrian) coach driver was amazing,” Libby said. “He was friendly, but really quiet and he knew the language of each country we visited.”

There were actually two groups involved in this tour - members of a band and members of a choir.  Turns out that band members could also join the choir in performances.  Libby loves to sing so she joined seven other band members in the double duty.

“Choir was the most fun,” she said. “ I really liked our director, Jeff Sandquist. He was very upbeat and entertaining and the musical selection was good.”

Among the titles they performed were “Shenandoah,” “Praise His Holy Name,” and “Make Them Hear You (from Ragtime).

The Turner’s favorite part of the trip? Switzerland.

“The views were great and the people were very nice,” said Libby. “Switzerland was beautiful.”

Since they stayed in the mountains some 40 miles from Lake Geneva, on their free time they traveled to the lake and close to the iconic Matterhorn.

The trip, they said, was full of memorable visits - In France, The Eiffle Tower, the Louvre, a boat ride on the Seine; in Austria, the site of the 1964 Olympics where they watched skiers practice the long jump and visited the Swarovski Crystal factory; In Venice, a gondola ride, singing in St. Mark’s Catheral.

And the food - banana and Nutella crepes in Paris, fish and chips in London, fondue in Switzerland, pizza as the Italians make it. 

It was a trip Libby made after months of earning the $6,000 it took through yard sales, bake sales, raffles, washing windows, mowing lawns, cleaning houses and donations.

Libby came back with a number of impressions: “The castles and churches everywhere are pretty,” “The bathrooms are different, sometimes you had to pay,” and “They don’t tear things down and rebuild like we do.”

But probably the most important observation about the people in all the countries she visited: “We are different, but we are more alike than we think.”