Douzelage News

The trip to Sušice that almost never was…

by Mette Grith Sørensen

The teacher fell ill – so three young people decided to travel themselves to the music festival in Sušice

Trouble was looming ahead, when the music teacher fell ill the day before leaving for a festival in Sušice, Czech Republic. But a special ticket with help from the airline for young people under the age of 15 saved the trip for three young musicians from Holstebro, Denmark.

– It was a really, really good experience, and that’s why all the trouble that was connected with it, doesn’t matter to me, says 15-year-old Dagmar Høeg from Holstebro.

14-year-old Adam Harboe Karlssen agrees:

– I’m glad I came along. There should be no doubt about that, even if it was a bit of a hassle that just gave me a little sweat on the forehead…

Recently, the two – together with the 16-year-old Josefine Ma Kristensen – were the selected youngsters from Holstebro, who participated in a festival for young musicians from seven EU-countries. The Young Musicians festival took place from June 19 to June 24 in the city of Sušice in the Czech Republic.

Performing in Sušice Town Square

And it was the journey to Prague that gave the young people “trouble and sweat on their foreheads”.

But let’s take the prehistory first.

Exam on the same day

Holstebro Music School was contacted by Douzelage Holstebro. The Czech town of Douzelage, Sušice, was hosting the Young Musicians festival, and they invited three young people and a teacher from each of the member countries to come and play with each other, hold concerts and have a good time.

Holstebro Music School said “yes, thank you” to the invitation  – and so did the Douzelage towns in Slovakia, England, Hungary. Portugal, Lithuania and, of course, the host country, the Czech Republic.

At the music school in Holstebro, all the teachers were asked if they had a student they could recommend for the trip. The students had to pay for the journey themselves, but the stay in the Czech Republic was paid for by Sušice with an EU grant.

– I was asked about two months before, and I immediately thought that I would like to – I just didn’t know if I could because of exams, says Dagmar Høeg.

She attends The Christian Independent School in Holstebro, where she had her final exams this year. Dagmar plays the violin and attends the talent line at Holstebro Music School.

It turned out, that she had to take the exam in spoken danish on the same day that she flew to the Czech Republic. She did and got top marks!

Adam performs on stage in Sušice

Cancelled – what then?

After the summer holidays, Adam Harboe Karlsen will be in the 8th grade at Nørre Boulevard School. He plays the accordion.

Are you also attending the talent line like Dagmar?

– No, I go to badminton, laughs Adam, who is a bit of a charmer.

However, he says that he is considering whether to apply for the talent line, because he is “better at the accordion than at badminton”.

His mother, Lise Kondrup Baggesen, is an accordion teacher, and Adam attends her accordion lessons.

– It’s been a long time since mum asked me, if I wanted to be signed up as a possible participant for the festival. And I thought: “Why not, even if I probably won’t be chosen anyway”. But I did! – it was beyond all expectations, says Adam.

The third student to be selected was 16-year-old Josefine Ma Kristensen, who plays the piano and also attends the talent line. She is on holiday now, but told the author of this article (in a text message) that it had been a great trip.

But then the teacher, who had signed up to accompany the three young people, suddenly fell ill.

– I was told the day before departure that the trip was cancelled, says Dagmar.

Dagmar in action at the final performance in Sušice

Paid to get help

Adam’s mother, Lise, says:

– We waited for Adam, when he came home from badminton and told him that the trip had been cancelled. And then I had a boy just standing there, saying: “Mom, do you realise how much I’ve been looking forward to this?” We thought that he should have that experience – perhaps because I myself have tried to travel abroad with music as a young person.

The point is that you are not allowed to fly, if you are under 15, without being accompanied by a person who is over 18. And since Adam was 14 (and therefore “under 15”), and neither Dagmar nor Josefine were over 18, good advice didn’t come cheap, In the most literal sense.

– You can pay for a special ticket, where there is an employee from the airline who helps you find the right flight. It’s not cheap, I think, but it was once in a lifetime, so my parents bought me such a ticket, smiles Adam,

It turned out to be a great advantage for all three of them.

– We flew from Billund to Amsterdam, and there was someone ready to help us change planes, and we got to the front of the queue, says Adam, who already needed the help in Billund.

He had almost got to the plane, when he remembered that he had forgotten his accordion, which was still on the tape in security! But it was picked up, and the three young musicians reached Prague, where they were picked up by a driver from Sušice.


So how was it then?

– It was fun. I shared a room with one from Slovakia and one from Hungary, and it was a bit special to enter the room of two people who spoke different languages ​​and whom I had never seen before. But they were nice and the guy from Slovakia spoke English. I actually thought I was poor at English, but it went much better than I expected, says Adam.

Dagmar, Rosa (UK) and Josefine overlooking Sušice

Josefine and Dagmar had each other – and the third girl in the room was the English Rosa. The two became very good friends with her.

– We spoke English the whole time, and it could be a bit exhausting, but it was also fun, and you learned so much from it, Dagmar believes.

– And I was dragged along in between, laughs Adam.

Adam is “dragged” for ice cream by the girls 🙂

Because of his instrument, he was the only one who could not be part of the joint orchestra that was rehearsing for the final concert.

– I got a room to myself where I could practice, but then a Czech guy who wasn’t actually part of the festival, but who also played the accordion, came along and played with me. We became good friends and exchanged notes, says Adam.

Everyone had the opportunity to play the numbers they had brought from home – Adam and Dagmar played the danish composer Carl Nielsen together, for example – out in various cafes in the city.

And then there was the big Saturday Night concert, where everyone performed.

The president of Douzelage, Shane Smyth, who was present during the concert, says:

– I simply had to be photographed with Adam! What a talent – he was one of those who stole the show at the concert.

Douzelage President Shane Smyth with Adam Harboe Karlssen

Send more sheet music

On Sunday, Adam called his mother. He wanted her to contact a friend back home who plays the cello and who Adam has played with before.

– The guy from Slovakia I lived with has been playing the cello since he was six years old. So he was really good! So Esben at home photographed some sheet music and mother sent it, and then the Slovak boy just practiced for a few hours – and we went out to play in the city, says Adam.

It was 10pm, but the two settled into a spot and got “a nice crowd of locals”, as Adam says.

Adam’s mother was happy when she heard about it.

– I can’t get rid of the thought that a Danish boy and a Slovak boy are playing Argentine tango in a town in the Czech Republic, while a Hungarian girl is holding the iPad with sheet music for them. In a world full of war and discord, it is a nice and positive thought, she says.

Adam and Dagmar have not regretted that they went to the Czech Republic.

Josefine on the piano during the final night performance

– We all ended up becoming good friends and having fun together, says Dagmar.

– Yes, it is an experience to get to know so many new people. It was really strange that we could become so close to each other in such a short time, but when we said goodbye, it was almost as if we had gone to school together and were sad to say goodbye, says Adam.

– Yes, everyone said; “We’ll do it again”, smiles Dagmar.

The youngsters send their warm thanks to people in Susice – “they were so nice to us”, they say.

Read more about the Young Musicians Festival in Sušice here

This article was taken from a published article in Holstebro Onsdag.