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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world.

Mastersingers musical director reflects on recent European tour

The San Antonio Mastersingers perform in Innsbruck.
Courtesy Yoojin Muhn
The San Antonio Mastersingers perform in Innsbruck.

The San Antonio Mastersingers recently returned from a 10-day adventure touring the breathtaking European landscape, connecting with classical music history in Austria and the Czech Republic. Along the way, the Mastersingers performed in locations such as Vienna and Salzburg.

The purpose of this tour was to enrich their perspective on music.

Dr. Yoojin Muhn, Musical Director of the San Antonio Mastersingers.
Nathan Cone
Dr. Yoojin Muhn, Musical Director of the San Antonio Mastersingers.

Dr. Yoojin Muhn, the group’s Musical Director, said some group members felt a sense of belonging as they sang in these venues. Others felt they broadened their horizons as they partook in a different culture overall. As Muhn noted, “it was inspiring more than it was unfamiliar...they preserve, as well as take pride in, their history.”

There were no preconceived notions between Austrians and Texas, she noticed. The music is what sparked a conversation after each performance. Not only from within the Mastersingers, but from our Austrian neighbors.

The experience allowed exposure to others’ performances and brought the choir closer together.

“In Salzburg, the day we performed in the evening, there was an organ performance at noon. [The Mastersingers and I] went there, and then the organist was playing four different organs of five...It was wonderful experience,” Muhn said.

“Also, at the Mirabell Palace...there was a Mozart chamber group performing, mostly like string quintet concerts...Then in Vienna, we went to the opera and watched Die Fledermaus. We spent 10 days, had meals, had some coffee time, and sang together. It was a great time for us bonding as a community choir.”

The group members shared a common goal of putting on a great show; all with the bonus of spending time together.

The bonding was not limited to just one another, as some felt connected to the thread of history where great composers went to school, worked, lived and breathed at one point in time.

“It's probably one of the most unforgettable experiences I had in my life,” Muhn said.

Having fun in Innsbruck, Austria.
Yoojin Muhn
Having fun in Innsbruck, Austria.

She reminisced, “I learned the composer’s life and their compositions, just through the western music history books...but when I actually visited the cemetery where the greatest composers like Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms and Johann Strauss [were buried]...it was an unbelievably touching moment...I can't express [the feeling] with any word. It was really, really incredibly moving, you know, as a musician.”

It’s fascinating how we can learn about someone’s life in a faraway time at a location nowhere near us, but even more fascinating is experiencing it.

This shows us that history can be impacting in awe-inspiring ways. Regardless of whether you’re a performer, Dr. Muhn meaningfully reminds us why it’s important to keep our adventurous spirit alive; to throw that dart at the globe and go wherever it lands.

“When we go abroad, even for a tour or journey, we learn a lot. We can broaden our perspectives on the world. As a choir, we can learn a lot from the different diverse cultures and then experiences.”

Muhn continued, “It's important for us to go abroad and learn; experience diverse cultures and backgrounds.”

Was choir a big part of your life at a point in time? Here’s something you might like to know about the Mastersingers and their mission, according to Muhn:

“If we can provide more opportunities to the young audiences from [Kindergarten] through [12th Grade], so that they can grow listening to live music, watching the rehearsals or experiencing any opera, symphony, or choral concert then, they feel more friendly [to classical music] ...when they become older. As a community choir, we have our mission.”

She affirmed, “But most importantly, we are looking for people, passionate about choral music, and anybody who really wants to be in the community where we can create greater things than we are.”

This fall, the Mastersingers are celebrating their 80th anniversary with their 2024-2025 season. Selections include compositions by Beethoven and Mahler and collaborations with the San Antonio Philharmonic.

If you are passionate about choral music and serving your community, go and search for their website, SAmastersingers.org and look under the Audition tab. The choir is open to anyone and working with Dr. Muhn is a pleasure and honor. I highly encourage you to take this opportunity.

Members of the Mastersingers in Salzburg, 2024.
Courtesy Yoojin Muhn
Members of the Mastersingers in Salzburg, 2024.

Abraham Gomez is a part of San Antonio's Ambassador Program and a 2024 Intern for Texas Public Radio, working on projects for KPAC 88.3 FM. Abraham is a full-time junior at UTSA majoring in Vocal Performance with a minor in Nonprofit Organization Management.Abraham primarily can be seen performing at UTSA School of Music events, with an upcoming show of Mozart's Don Giovanni, this October 2024 by UTSA. Some of his favorite genres of music include classical, hip-hop, r & b, and alt-rock. When he is not at school, he can be found online playing games with his friends, collecting vinyl records or saving coupons for Taco Palenque.