The European Tour
Blue Lake International Exchange Program’s European tours are three to four weeks long, depending on the ensemble. Blue Lake ensembles visit five to seven communities and perform at least one rehearsal and concert in each location. Depending on the ensemble and program, some students may also participate in select chamber ensembles or featured repertoire, either as a part of the primary performance or a smaller concert event. In some instances, groups are given the opportunity to perform for community officials, dignitaries, and leaders.
The Blue Lake International ensembles have appeared on some of the finest and historically relevant stages in Europe, as well as in community centers, schools, churches, and amphitheaters. Blue Lake groups may perform in front of sold out, ticketed audiences in large concert halls, as well as participate in local music festivals and community celebrations.
Homecoming Performance Day
The tour concludes with an energizing performance at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp’s Stewart Shell for the camp community, family members, and concert goers. Homecoming performance days include an afternoon of rehearsal time, reuniting with friends and family, sharing tour stories, and celebrating time together. Homecoming performances may be broadcast on Blue Lake Public Radio, which covers a ten county radius in West Michigan and streams all over the world from the Blue Lake website. The homecoming performance is the perfect way to end an incredible musical journey and say farewell to new found friends.
Host Communities and Families
Well established and vetted community leaders, dignitaries, and educators serve as hosting representatives for our groups. These representatives coordinate Blue Lake’s visit by organizing special events, rehearsals and performances, and most importantly, our host families. Host families are selected from the hosting organization, such as a school, community artistic ensemble, or church. Personal data is collected from Blue Lake students in order to make an appropriate host family assignment based on age, gender, instrument, and personal interests. Blue Lake students essentially become members of their European family for three days. Sightseeing, shopping, home-cooked meals, and community events are all part of a Blue Laker’s schedule in each host community. At the conclusion of the stay, tears are common as students bid farewell to their host family and the motor coach departs for the next community.
Preparing for Tour
The Blue Lake International Exchange Program holds several rehearsals throughout the year. Rehearsals take place on one Sunday in November, one Sunday in April, one weekend in May, and one week in early June. All rehearsals take place on the campus of Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. Students are expected to practice regularly on their own to master their music before arriving at rehearsals. Orientation, mini language classes, recitals, recreation, and typical camp fun are all part of the Blue Lake International rehearsals. At the conclusion of the rehearsal week in June, International ensembles offer a Bon Voyage performance for family and friends before boarding the motor coach and heading to the airport to begin their European adventure.