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Guest conductor Jeffery L. Ames directs the DODDS-Europe Honors Chorus through a number during rehearsals Wednesday. A total of 149 students -- 80 singers -- from DODDS high schools throughout Europe participated in the weeklong Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany.
Guest conductor Jeffery L. Ames directs the DODDS-Europe Honors Chorus through a number during rehearsals Wednesday. A total of 149 students -- 80 singers -- from DODDS high schools throughout Europe participated in the weeklong Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Guest conductor Jeffery L. Ames directs the DODDS-Europe Honors Chorus through a number during rehearsals Wednesday. A total of 149 students -- 80 singers -- from DODDS high schools throughout Europe participated in the weeklong Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany.
Guest conductor Jeffery L. Ames directs the DODDS-Europe Honors Chorus through a number during rehearsals Wednesday. A total of 149 students -- 80 singers -- from DODDS high schools throughout Europe participated in the weeklong Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
The DODDS-Europe Honors Band under the direction of Paula Crider rehearses for the Thursday evening concert with the Honors Chorus. A total of 149 students from Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe high schools throughout Europe participated in the weeklong Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany.
The DODDS-Europe Honors Band under the direction of Paula Crider rehearses for the Thursday evening concert with the Honors Chorus. A total of 149 students from Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe high schools throughout Europe participated in the weeklong Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Meggie Rodman, a Hohenfels, Germany, junior, watches conductor Laura Crider as she and the Honors Band rehearse Wednesday. A total of 149 students from Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe high schools throughout Europe participated in the weeklong Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany.
Meggie Rodman, a Hohenfels, Germany, junior, watches conductor Laura Crider as she and the Honors Band rehearse Wednesday. A total of 149 students from Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe high schools throughout Europe participated in the weeklong Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Guest conductor Paula Crider leads the Honors Band through a number during rehearsals Wednesday during the Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany.
Guest conductor Paula Crider leads the Honors Band through a number during rehearsals Wednesday during the Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Baumholder High School, Germany's Justin Owens plays the sax during Honors Band rehearsals Wednesday at the weeklong Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany.
Baumholder High School, Germany's Justin Owens plays the sax during Honors Band rehearsals Wednesday at the weeklong Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Claire Rumery, center, rehearses with the chorus Wednesday. This is the third year the Brussels junior has participated in the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe Honors Music Festival.
Claire Rumery, center, rehearses with the chorus Wednesday. This is the third year the Brussels junior has participated in the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe Honors Music Festival. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
When guest chorus conductor Jeffery L. Ames thought the students were singing a Mozart piece too merrily, he suggested they should make scary faces while singing, which only brought on more laughter. The students were part of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe high school Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany.
When guest chorus conductor Jeffery L. Ames thought the students were singing a Mozart piece too merrily, he suggested they should make scary faces while singing, which only brought on more laughter. The students were part of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe high school Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Bass vocalist Luke Widmer, a senior at Patch High School in Stuttgart, Germany, sings during chorus rehearsals at the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe weeklong Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany.
Bass vocalist Luke Widmer, a senior at Patch High School in Stuttgart, Germany, sings during chorus rehearsals at the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe weeklong Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Nichole Pissierra from Alconbury High School, England, watches director Jeffery Ames as she and the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe Honors Chorus rehearse in Oberwesel, Germany, on Wednesday. A total of 149 students from DODDS high schools throughout Europe participated in the weeklong Honors Music Festival.
Nichole Pissierra from Alconbury High School, England, watches director Jeffery Ames as she and the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe Honors Chorus rehearse in Oberwesel, Germany, on Wednesday. A total of 149 students from DODDS high schools throughout Europe participated in the weeklong Honors Music Festival. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Julian Byles, a Hohenfels (Germany) High School freshman, plays the tuba with the Honors Band on Wednesday in Oberwesel, Germany.
Julian Byles, a Hohenfels (Germany) High School freshman, plays the tuba with the Honors Band on Wednesday in Oberwesel, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Percussionists Micalea Young, Mitchell Petersen, Phillip McElveen and Theresa Bolan wait their cue during Honors Band rehearsals on Wednesday. Petersen is from Brussels, Belgium, while the others go to Ramstein High School in Germany.
Percussionists Micalea Young, Mitchell Petersen, Phillip McElveen and Theresa Bolan wait their cue during Honors Band rehearsals on Wednesday. Petersen is from Brussels, Belgium, while the others go to Ramstein High School in Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Julie Byrne  of Ramstein High School, Germany, makes some notations as she and the Honors Band rehearse Wednesday. A total of 149 students from Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe high schools participated in the weeklong Honors Music Festival.
Julie Byrne of Ramstein High School, Germany, makes some notations as she and the Honors Band rehearse Wednesday. A total of 149 students from Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe high schools participated in the weeklong Honors Music Festival. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Ankara, Turkey's Joshua Krause hits the kettle drums during a rehearsal with the DODDS-Europe Honors Band on Wednesday. A total of 149 students from Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe high schools throughout Europe participated in the weeklong Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany.
Ankara, Turkey's Joshua Krause hits the kettle drums during a rehearsal with the DODDS-Europe Honors Band on Wednesday. A total of 149 students from Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe high schools throughout Europe participated in the weeklong Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Members of the DODDS-Europe Honors Band and Chorus rehearse Wednesday. They will be performing Thursday at a concert in Wiesbaden, Germany, ending the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe's weeklong Honors Music Festival.
Members of the DODDS-Europe Honors Band and Chorus rehearse Wednesday. They will be performing Thursday at a concert in Wiesbaden, Germany, ending the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe's weeklong Honors Music Festival. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Members of the Honors Chorus rehearse a medley of the armed services' songs with the band on Wednesday. A total of 149 students from Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe high schools throughout Europe participated in the weeklong Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany.
Members of the Honors Chorus rehearse a medley of the armed services' songs with the band on Wednesday. A total of 149 students from Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe high schools throughout Europe participated in the weeklong Honors Music Festival in Oberwesel, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Kaiserslautern (Germany) High School's Wayne Fears directs the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe Honors Band and Chorus during a rehearsal in Oberwesel, Germany, on Wednesday afternoon. A total of 149 students from DODDS high schools throughout Europe  are participating in the weeklong Honors Music Festival, which culminates with a concert for band and chorus at the Kurhaus in Wiesbaden at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Kaiserslautern (Germany) High School's Wayne Fears directs the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe Honors Band and Chorus during a rehearsal in Oberwesel, Germany, on Wednesday afternoon. A total of 149 students from DODDS high schools throughout Europe are participating in the weeklong Honors Music Festival, which culminates with a concert for band and chorus at the Kurhaus in Wiesbaden at 7 p.m. on Thursday. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Gather 149 teenagers at a picturesque youth hostel overlooking the Rhine River and the last thing you might expect to hear there is Mozart’s “Laudate Pueri” or the patriotic classic “The Washington Post March.”

But for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe high school students gathered at the Jugendgästehaus in Oberwesel, Germany, those sounds were music to their ears.

The students, from more than 20 schools, were fine-tuning their voices and instruments as part of the Honors Music Festival. They were spending five days rehearsing various compositions in Oberwesel before presenting a festival-ending concert Thursday night at the historic Wiesbaden Kurhaus.

The 80 voices comprising the Honors Chorus and the 69 instrumentalists making up the Honors Band were chosen from the nearly 400 recorded applications submitted this year.

“Here you meet somebody and you’ll be best friends the next day, you have the same passion,” said Brussels junior Claire Rumery, who sings alto in the chorus.

The festival also gives students a chance to learn from accomplished conductors who travel from the States to help and inspire the musicians. This year, Jeffery L. Ames, director of choral activities at Belmont University in Tennessee, and Paula A. Crider, professor emeritus at the University of Texas, were the guest conductors for the chorus and band, respectively.

In what could easily turn into a stress-filled five days of rehearsal with students learning new material alongside peers they don’t normally play with, the guest conductors are able to get the most out of the students while maintaining a calm and fun environment.

“The tempo is rocking gang, way to go. ... Let’s really take people’s breath away,” said Crider as she encouraged the band members through a rehearsal of Carl Strommen’s “Prairiesong,” one of the six pieces they will perform.

Even when mistakes were made, Crider was able to point them out with a humorous touch that left the kids smiling. For example, she compared one off-tune sound to the Creature from the Black Lagoon lurking in a swamp.

“She’s teaching us a lot that I didn’t know,” said Ramstein junior percussionist Phillip McElveen. He added the experience replicates all-state bands in the U.S. “They’re giving us the experience even though we’re overseas,” he pointed out.

Chorus rehearsals went much the same way — serious work mixed with humor.

“They are a wonderful choir to work with, very responsive,” said Ames, whose expressive teaching style had the students stifling laughter as they rehearsed a Mozart composition.

The choir will perform that piece along with seven others, including two original numbers by Ames, “In Remembrance” and “Let Everything That Hath Breath.”

Although the groups had only the five days together, they sounded like a well-polished professional group Wednesday during rehearsals.

Rumery, who is participating in the festival for her third year, said she couldn’t wait for Thursday’s performance at the Kurhaus.

“You feel like you’re professional, like you’re living out a dream,” she said.

But the performance will also mean that the festival has come to an end, and not everyone is happy about that.

“When you go back to school, it’s depressing,” said Wiesbaden senior Ashley Charles, a flutist who hopes to major in music at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. “I don’t get to do this for eight hours a day at school.”

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