Ren Martin-Doike Tours France with Virtuosi

Ren and a new friend

This summer, three From the Top alumni Ren Martin-Doike, 18, violin/viola, Zoe Martin-Doike, 19, violin, and Nathan Vickery, 19, cello participated in a whirlwind two-week nine concert tour with the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music pre-college Virtuosi.

Ren sent us a great write-up of her trip with this 9-member  chamber ensemble and their coaching staff…

The Virtuosi spent our first week in Paris, sight-seeing by day and performing for enthusiastic audiences by night. For the second half of the tour, individual Virtuosi members were adopted by host families in the western city of Nantes where we bonded with our host families and experienced a full French cultural immersion.

The Virtuosi performing at L'Atelier de la Main d'Or in Paris.

The Virtuosi Are Enthusiastically Received in France

The Virtuosi unleashed our music with energy and confidence, causing audiences to respond with a crescendo of applause, gradually joining into a unified rhythm. Some audience members even followed the Virtuosi to multiple concerts.

One young fan came backstage beaming to present the group with a drawing of their previous performance of Aaron Copeland’s Hoe Down – complete with a detailed speech bubble depicting leader Sangwoo Kim’s (violinist/violist) memorable country music style count down in French.

Site-Seeing Around France

The first time in France for many, Virtuosi members learned about the country’s culture through its art, visiting museums such as the famed Louvre, Musée D’Orsay, and Musée Rodin.

In the second week, with the Conservatoire de Nantes as our main hub, the group also traveled to the quaint cities of Anger, Cholet, Roche sur Yon and Le Mans to perform.

Nathan samples the desserts!

Memorable Experiences

Taking the metro everywhere, the Virtuosi even encountered a real band of gypsies that pick-pocketed group leaders Mimi Zweig and Brenda Brenner! (Both their wallets were recovered, missing nothing but the cash within them.)

Besides exploring the city and playing in beautiful halls, most of the group would agree that one of the most delightful parts of the trip was tasting French desserts. From fruit tartes to pain au chocolat, a croissant like pastry filled with chocolate surprises, there was something delicious for every pallet.

The Trip Back Home

After a bittersweet farewell dinner with all of our host families, the Virtuosi packed our bags and began the long journey home. After fourteen adventure packed days on the road performing and traveling, the Virtuosi had a grand time in France and now look forward to our next tour of Argentina this coming year!

– Ren