Janie Wood Richardt ’71 was awarded a Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Grant, enabling her to travel to Germany and Austria, performing with a symphony and studying the great classical composers.
Janie Wood Richardt teaches at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Elementary School in Indiana. She plans to incorporate all she learned in her summer travels in her K-8 music classes. For example, she conducts a band of fourth-graders through eighth-graders, and they’ll perform a great composers concert this coming year.
Janie’s travels began in June, when she attended the Bach Music Festival in Leipzig, Germany with her son, Joshua. (Joshua paid his own way to Europe to aid his mother in documenting her trip.) They attended concerts, museums dedicated to the great composers, and visited cathedrals.
While in Leipzig, they toured the museums of Bach, Felix Mendelssohn and Robert and Clara Schumann. “I learned much about their lives, and I was surprised to find out how many of the composers in the 1800s knew each other and even performed together,” Janie said.
Next, they traveled to Nuremberg to see the courtroom where the Nuremberg trials were held. “My father was an MP at the trials and guarded Hermann Goring,” said Janie, explaining the detour from her predominantly music-focused trip. “It was a memorable experience to stand in the courtroom where my father stood more than 70 years ago.”
After Nuremberg, they took the train to the Munich airport to meet the First Coast Wind Symphony from Jacksonville, FL. “They immediately made us feel welcome in their group,” Janie said. Boarding a bus, they all headed for Salzburg, Austria, where they saw the fountain featured in the film The Sound of Music, and where the symphony performed its first concert.
After Salzburg, the group toured the salt mines and the lakes region on the way to Vienna, Austria, “the music capital of the world,” Janie said. They visited composer museums, Prince Esterhazy’s palace – “where Haydn composed” – and the cemetery where Beethoven, Mozart and Strauss are buried.
While in Vienna, Janie participated in a workshop with the Vienna Symphony’s second principal violinist. They concluded their time in Vienna with two additional performances by the First Coast Wind Symphony.
“It was a dream come true, to perform in Europe with other professional musicians,” Janie said. “I’m hoping that’s something I can give to my students. If you have a dream, you should persevere. You should not give up.”
One of the longest standing programs of Lilly Endowment, the Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program began as a way to help Indiana public school teachers renew their commitment to teaching. This program supports lifelong learning among educators by enabling them to pursue their dreams and passions, explore new areas of interest, expand existing talents and develop new ones. Renewal times are not vacations, but opportunities for intentional exploration and reflection that result in renewed energy and creativity in teachers and thereby in classrooms and schools.
Janie Wood Richardt earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Marylhurst University in 1971. She teaches music to grades K-8 at St. Maria Goretti Catholic School in Westfield, IN. She is a multi-instrumentalist, performing on flute, guitar, piano and trumpet, and she performs with the Indy Winds Flute Choir.