This spring, 65 Homewood-Flossmoor High School singers will take their musical talents to northern Italy led by teacher and choir director Michael Rugen.
During the nine-day trip, students performing as the H-F Master Singers will sing at a mass in Venice; at the Duomo, the main cathedral in Milan; and a number of impromptu performances along the way. Rugen said in all the singers will perform five or six times in the nine days.
The trip includes stops in Milan, Florence, Pisa, Siena, San Gimignano, Venice and Verona. Rugen said his first trip as director was in 1992 and it too was to Italy, but he has set a different itinerary for this trip.
“The trips are planned as multi-dimensional,” he said. He leaves the details to a trip planning organization in Europe that works on a schedule that allows students to not only perform but enjoy the museums, art galleries and all the special sites.
This will be the tenth trip Rugen has planned as the music director. He assisted and chaperoned on several trips before taking on the planning. This trip is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors. They will be accompanied by six chaperones.
“I usually look at Western Europe because it has such a rich history of choral music and that’s part of this whole trip is to expose the kids to international travels and where the history is,” he explained.
“It’s life-changing for kids. It’s just an amazing trip,” and performing adds another special dimension to the travels, Rugen said. He makes certain every student on the trip has a special responsibility, such as being responsible for a suitcase full of robes.
“When we perform, we’re in robes. We’ll probably pack six suitcases with robes this time,” the director explained.
Homewood-Flossmoor High School is the only Illinois high school that has consistently sent students on trips since 1970. Since the late 1990s, the trips have been sponsored by the H-F Fine and Performing Arts Council and Foundation (H-F FPAC), a 501(c)3 organization run by parents and volunteers.
Students are fundraising for the next several months. They will be hosting a carwash on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the corner of Dixie Highway and 183rd Street.
The H-F FPAC is also part of a Queen of Hearts Raffle. Each week one person will have an opportunity to win the raffle if their number gets to the Queen of Hearts card. Tickets are six chances for $5 and are on sale at Wiley’s Grill at the Coyote Run Golf Course clubhouse, 800 Kedzie Ave. in Flossmoor.
The group’s major fundraiser will be the January 19 auction that includes silent and live auction bidding and other prizes.
Donations to help defray the cost of this trip can be sent to H-F FPAC at Rugen’s attention at H-F High School, 999 Kedzie Ave., Flossmoor, IL 60422.