Germany Tour 2017

6/28/2017 •

Germany Tour 2017, led by Firebird Fine Arts Tours

A huge thank you goes out to Kathie, Phillip & Mat Schmoll who led YOCJ on a truly amazing tour to Germany!! Enjoy the photos below.

YOCJ posted daily photos on our regular facebook page, mostly called “VIRTUAL VOYAGE.” Scroll backwards to see that:

Also a Facebook group page entitled, YOCJ Germany 2017 Tour was created for people to add and view photos and videos:

Here are a handful of photos and the itinerary that we enjoyed. Looking forward to the 2020 Tour!!




big group at Berlin



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


Buffet breakfast.

7 AM to 9:30 AM buffet breakfast
9:45 AM everyone meets in front of hotels
10 AM to 11 AM Leipzig walking exploration tour
11 AM to 2:15 PM lunch on your own and free time only around the hotel area
**Buy snack for later!!**
2:15 PM everyone returns to the hotels and students change into concert attire and brings the following downstairs:
•Music folders
•Music Stands
2:45 PM meet in front of hotel
3 PM depart to Petri Kirche
4 PM students rehearse/families can walk around the area
6:30 PM students eat a snack they bought earlier at the concert site
7:30 PM concert in the Petri Kirche
After concert:
•All on bus
•Everyone drops off items at hotel
•Meet in front of hotel to walk to….
9:30 PM dinner at Restaurant Moritzbastei

DAY 4 (Sat.) July 1 LEIPZIG

7am-930am Buffet breakfast

9:45am EVERYONE meets in front of Nikolai Hotel (not Augustus) to get Walking Tour Group Assignments (different than bus assignments–only for today’s walking tours)

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

12:30 Guides will bring groups directly to: Lunch at the historic Restaurant “Auerbach’s Keller”


2PM Depart Leipzig for Halle (in regular 3 bus assignments)

3PM Arrive in Halle and visit the G.F. Händel Haus

3PM Two groups walk with Halle guides

3PM Two groups enter Händel Haus

4PM The first two groups that entered the Händel Haus walk with the guides

4PM The second two groups enter the Händel Haus

5PM Walk to buses and depart back to Leipzig Hotels, time to relax and freshen up (Start to PACK!)


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

(Keep packing! We depart tomorrow.)

DAY 5 (Sun.) July 2 LEIPZIG – BERLIN

7AM to 8:15AM Buffet breakfast.

8:30AM Everyone: Drop off key cards at front desk & meet in front of your respective hotels with ALL luggage, instruments etc. We will be led by Firebird to our buses.

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.

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.


12:30 PM Non orchestra members have lunch together in restaurant

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

7-8am Buffet breakfast

8:15AM Depart the hotel for Potsdam

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.

We will divide into the same 5 groups as yesterday.

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.


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.


12:30 Lunch in Potsdam

2:00PM Return to our hotel, students can buy snacks at the supermarket for the evening

3:45PM Students come down in concert attire, with instruments, stands, and folders.

4:00PM Depart hotel on bus 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 a sit down dinner with our partner musicians

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