Germany Tour 2017

6/28/2017 •

Germany Tour 2017, led by Firebird Fine Arts Tours

ImageBrandenburgerGateBack in 2014, Kathie Schmoll and her team led YOCJ on a truly amazing tour to Austria (Vienna and Salzburg) and the Czech Republic (Prague). Firebird Fine Arts Tours presented the itinerary and answered questions about the upcoming 2017 Germany Tour, at our annual Registration meeting. Check out the informational PDF’s and peruse the itinerary below! Please email us with any questions:


Here are the most recent updates of what lies ahead!

  1. UPDATED ITINERARY PDF: Click HERE to view & download our latest itinerary as a PDF!
  2. RED TOUR T-Shirts: available on Tues. June 20 & Tues. June 27!
    Motel One – Leipzig – Nikolaikirche, Nikolaistrasse 23   04109 Leipzig

    Motel One – Leipzig – Augustusplatz, Ritterstrasse 4   04109 Leipzig

    Here is the web address for both hotels, one is called the NikolaiKirche and the other is called Augustusplatz,

    Abacus Tierpark Hotel
    Franz-Mett-Straße 3-9, 10319 Berlin, Germany

    Click HERE to view the June 20 PPT presentation!
    Click HERE to view the PPT from the May 2 Parent Meeting.
    We trust that you have already scheduled your Wednesday June 28 flight to Berlin. As of now, Firebird is asking that you join the YOCJ tour at the Berlin Tegel Airport and meet us on THURSDAY JUNE 29 at 2pm near Main Terminal A Gate 7. They say you can double-check at which gate YOCJ will be arriving on a large flight Digital board in the airport. We will be coming in on this flight:
    Swiss flight LX966 departs Zurich, arrival in Berlin 2.10 PM
    If there are any questions/concerns on Thursday June 29, please text or call Larisa Epps at 609-213-0005.
    If you miss meeting us at the Tegel Airport, contact us, and you will need to make arrangements to meet us at our next destination–Leipzig. See itinerary down below.
    So far several families have signed up to leave their cars at the high school. If you will be leaving a car parked at WWPHS North during the YOCJ Germany Tour, June 28 to July 5, click on this link and complete the short form: YOCJ Germany Tour – Car Parked at WWPHS North
    Please alert us ASAP if you want to get frequent flyer mile credit from this trip. We need to know your name, plan name, and member #. Email us:
  8. GERMANY REHEARSALS, updated on 6/14/17
    •Monday through Thursday, June 19-22, 6 PM to 9:30 PM, everyone
    •Monday, June 26, 6 PM to 9:30 PM everyone
    •Tuesday, June 27:
    5:30 PM rehearsals,
    8:30 PM YOCJ Student luggage check-in
    • ALL YOCJ Student “checked” luggage will be checked by chaperones/board members at 830pm on Tues. June 27, right after the concert. These bags will stay at WWPHS North overnight.
    • ALL YOCJ Student “carry-on” bags will be checked by chaperones/board members on Wed. June 28. All traveling families/students must report to the WWPHS North Theater at 3:30pm.
  10. LOGO CONTEST: Congratulations to our winnters May Zheng and Catherine Epps! Here are their winning logos!
    M LOGO
    C LOGO
  11. ROOMMATE SURVEY: Results were emailed at the beginning of May.
  12. TRIP INSURANCE: We highly recommend that everyone purchases their own trip insurance. Check out a website like this to consider your options:
    DEPARTURE on Wed. June 28th
    9.55 PM Swiss flight LX19 departs Newark, arrival in Zurich 11.40 AM
    12.45PM Swiss flight LX966 departs Zurich, arrival in Berlin 2.10 PM
    RETURN on Wed. July 5th
    2.50PM Swiss flight LX967 departs Berlin, arrival in Zurich at 4.20 PM
    5.20 PM Swiss flight LX18 departs Zurich, arrival in Newark at 8.10 PM
  14. EUROS:
    We have reached out to ALTOUR American Express in Princeton and they have set up a special rate for YOCJ. They will charge a flat fee of four dollars per transaction. When you visit their location, you must ask for either Meera or Stephen and you must let them know that you are from YOCJ. Meera also indicated that multiple families can combine to split the four dollar flat fee. She would just need one person present with a drivers license to take care of the transaction.
    ALTOUR American Express • 10 Nassau St., Princeton, NJ 08540 • 609-921-8600
    Their hours are:
    •Monday through Friday, 9AM-5:30 PM •Saturdays, 9 AM to 4 PM.
    •They are closed on Memorial Day and the Saturday prior to Memorial Day.
    Here is an example of the rates as of May 18th ~ To obtain €100, you would need:
    $121.22 of cash
    $122.93 if you use a debit card or a check
    $124.04 if you use a MasterCard or Visa

    Bring enough cash for snacks at the airport, the on-your-own lunches in the itinerary below, souvenirs, as well as tips for the hotel cleaning service. Thank you!

  15. VEGETARIANS? ALLERGIES? Please alert us ASAP to your needs and situation!
  16. SELECTED CHAPERONES: Susan Ge, Lora Sue Ludlum, Paul Robertson, & Larisa Epps
    Medical Information Forms and Prescription forms (if needed) are due from all YOCJ Students (if you haven’t already submitted it)! Our tour nurse Catherine Isnardi, can answer any tour-related medical questions.
    • Merchandise Sale to support the Germany tour: please consider purchasing regular YOCJ t-shirts, luggage tags, and magnets to support YOCJ’s tour-related expenses!

The first five documents were distributed at our September Registration meeting:

  1. General Trip Information & Itinerary
  2. Three Tour Packages & Options
  3. Parent/Student Contract
  4. Passport/Legal Name Form
  5. Chaperone Application
  6. Medical Information Form
  7. Prescription Form

Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey • PERFORMANCE TOUR JUNE 28th – July 5th, 2017 • LEIPZIG – HALLE – POTSDAM – BERLIN Presented by Firebird Fine Arts Tours • Cost: $2600/person

Updated Itinerary, as of June 24, 2017:

DAY 1 (Wed.) June 28 Depart USA

9:55PM Swiss flight LX19 departs Newark, arrival in Zurich 11:40AM

DAY 2 (Thurs.) June 29 BERLIN – LEIPZIG

12:45PM Swiss flight LX966 departs Zurich, arrival in Berlin 2:10PM

Load buses and depart for Leipzig. It is a little over a 2 hour drive

5:15pm Approximate afternoon arrival in Leipzig. We will proceed to our hotels and time for freshening up
7.00 PM Dinner at the historic Restaurant “Auerbach’s Keller”


Buffet breakfast.

8:45AM Depart Leipzig for Halle.

9:45AM Arrive in Halle and visit the G.F. Händel Haus

10:00AM Two groups walk with Halle guides

10:00AM Two groups enter Händel Haus

11:00AM The first two groups that entered the Händel Haus walk with the guides

11:00AM The second two groups enter the Händel Haus4a Image Handel Haus
4 ImageHalle_Händelhaus_2012

12:00 Walk to buses, and depart back to Leipzig

1:00 – 2:45PM Lunch on your own and free time

Alternate program suggestions for the parents and family members

3:00PM Depart the hotel with your instruments and concert attire

3:15PM Receive instruments in the Petri Kirche, followed by rehearsal

4:00 – 6:00PM YOCJ Rehearsal

6:00PM Leipzig Musicians arrive, meet and coordinate concert logistics

6:30PM Time to relax, have your snack and change for concert

7:30PM Concert in the Petri Kirche in Leipzig

9:30PM Dinner at the Restaurant Moritzbastei

After dinner walk back to our hotels

3 Petri Kirche Leipzig










DAY 4 (Sat.) July 1 LEIPZIG

Buffet breakfast

10:00 – 12:00AM Depart hotel in small groups with guides for

Leipzig’s “Notenspur Walk”

You will experience a musical Mecca where Bach wrote much of his greatest music. We’ll visit his tomb in “his” church, the Thomas Kirche. We’ll also visit the Nikolai Church, where Bach was also conductor and composer, and where history was made in 1989. Due to the peaceful but powerful, determined protests of its young people, Leipzig was first among East German cities to bring about the fall of the communist regime

Image Nikolai2 Image Thomaskirche_Interior

12:00 – 3:00PM Free time and lunch on your own4b Image Mendelssohn Haus

3:30PM Meet and walk to Mendelssohn Haus

4:00PM Afternoon visit to the Mendelssohn Haus,

5:30PM A short walk back to the hotel, about ten minutes, time to relax and freshen up

7:10PM Depart the hotel

7:30PM Exclusive Chamber Concert for YOCJ presented by a string quartet and a brass ensemble from the University of Leipzig.

9:00PM Dinner at the Thüringer Hof, Leipzig’s oldest restaurant

DAY 5 (Sun.) July 2 LEIPZIG – BERLIN

Buffet breakfast.

9:00AM Depart for Berlin.

Brief stop in the town of Wittenberg, where you’ll have a chance to see the church where Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door.

11:00 Depart Wittenberg for Berlin

1:00PM Lunch together in Berlin; after lunch we will proceed to the “Gendarmenmarkt” (a famous square) in the heart of Berlin, where we will be attending a concert at the Konzerthaus Berlin.

3:30PM Concert by the Cappella Academica, the Humboldt University Symphony Orchestra. They will be performing the following:

Sergei Rachmaninoff, Concerto for Piano und Orchestra Nr. 2 c-Minor op. 18

Peter Tchaikovsky, Symphony Nr. 5 e-Minor op. 64

5:30PM Proceed to our hotel, the Abacus-Tierpark Hotel in Berlin, for check-in, followed by a buffet dinner in the hotel:

DAY 6 (Mon.) July 3 – BERLIN

Buffet breakfast

8:30AM Depart the hotel for our walking tour of Berlin. Bring your instruments.

You will witness the course of history of this amazing city: from the proud Prussian Kingdom to the newly formed German State (after 1871), to the horror-filled Third Reich (after 1933), to the divided Germany after World War II, to the reunited Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. We will see the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, the site of the feared SS headquarters and Hitler’s bunker.
ImageBrandenburgerGate6 ImageBerlin_reichstag6b ImageHolocaust Memorial






We then continue our walk in the historic center of Berlin, including the State Opera House and the Humboldt University Library, site of the book burning during the Third Reich, the “Museum Island”, which is an island in the center of Berlin that has 5 Museums clustered together. The Berliner Dom (Cathedral), of the Hohenzollerns is also located here.

6c ImageState Opera HouseBerlin

7 ImageMuseum-Island-in-Berlin-312:30 PM Non orchestra members have lunch together

Alternate program suggestions for the parents and family members

12:30 Orchestra members proceed to the host school, the Georg Friedrich Händel Music High School

1:00 Orchestra members have a catered boxed lunch

1:30 – 3:30PM You will have an interactive meeting/jam session with members of the school orchestra

3:30PM non-orchestra members meet, and proceed to the East side Gallery where we all continue our tour

3:45PM Depart the school where we will continue our tour, mostly by bus, with an emphasis on Berlin Wall sites

4:00PM We will stop at the East Side Gallery, the strip of wall that was painted by artists from all over the world right after the Wall fell. We will then proceed to the Berlin Wall Memorial, the last intact section of the wall that remains. It was saved from demolition to be preserved as a memorial

We will continue on to the famous former border crossing between East and West Berlin — Checkpoint Charlie.

6:45 PM Proceed to Potsdamer Platz, and the Mall of Berlin for free time

7:30PM Dinner on your own either in the Mall, or Potsdamer Platz

9:00 PM Meet to return to hotel

DAY 7 (Tue.) July 4 – BERLIN – POTSDAM

Buffet breakfast

This morning we will visit Potsdam, the capital of Brandenburg, where Bach was inspired to write his Brandenburg Concertos. Potsdam was the summer residence of Prussian Kings and Emperors. It is located just outside of Berlin

8:15AM Depart the hotel for Potsdam

9:50AM The first group (other entrance times: 10:00, 10:20, 10:30, 10:50) will visit the Marmorpalais (Marble Palace), built from 1787-1793 by King Frederick William II, also known as the Musical King. He was known as an outstanding amateur Cellist, and for cultivating one of the best orchestras in all of Europe. He collaborated with Mozart, who claimed of the Court orchestra, that it is the “best gathering of Virtuosos in the World”. Boccherini was his Court Composer for a time, and after Beethoven performed at Court in 1796, out of gratitude, he dedicated a Cello sonata to the King.

5 Image Marble Palace

Located in the same park is the Cecilienhof Palace, the last residence built by the Hohenzollerns before the end of WWI. It was the site of the famous Potsdam Conference, where the Allies met at the end of WWII to decide the fate of a defeated Germany.

5a Image Marble Potsdam

12:30 Lunch in Potsdam

2:00PM Return to our hotel

4:00PM Depart hotel for our concert site for our rehearsal, also with the host choir of the G.F. Händel School

4:30PM Rehearsal (bring a snack for after rehearsal)

7:30PM OUR CONCERT at the Friedrichstadtkirche (Französicher Dom) on the Gendarmenmarkt

Afterwards we will return to our hotel where we will have dinner with our partner musicians

newest venue

DAY 8 (Wed.) July 5 – BERLIN – USA

Buffet breakfast.

11:00 Bus transfer to the airport for the flight home

2:50PM Swiss flight LX967 departs Berlin, arrival in Zurich at 4:20PM

5:20PM Swiss flight LX18 departs Zurich, arrival in Newark at 8:10PM