By Michelle Dupler
Music is a way of life for Central Crossing High School student Meryl Fowler.
The 17-year-old, who will be a senior this fall, started piano lessons at age 6 with her grandmother. From there, she moved on to the clarinet in sixth grade — but her musical journey might have ended there.
“It was awful. I didn’t like it,” she said of the woodwind instrument.
But she found her musical niche the following year when she picked up a drum and found a sense of fun and freedom in percussion instruments.
“You get to beat on stuff,” she said when asked why she loves percussion.
She’s been playing ever since and exercises her vocal talents as an alto and tenor in her school’s choir and show choir.
Fowler earned a unique opportunity to share her love of music with audiences in several European countries this summer as one of the Ohio Ambassadors of Music — a group of about 150 students from across the state who spent 16 days traveling and performing in seven countries.
Fowler was nominated by her now-retired choir director for the program run by Colorado-based Voyageurs International Ltd.
For more than 40 years, the program has sent thousands of students from almost every state on concert tours of Europe every summer. Students can participate either by sending in an audition tape or being nominated by their band, orchestra or choir musical director.
Fowler’s group performed in England, France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Germany. They also made a brief visit to the tiny nation of Lichtenstein.
The music they performed ranged from classical hymns to showtunes. Fowler said the European audiences welcomed the American students with open arms.
“They knew we were coming and they loved us,” she said.
They performed in front of full houses and even got discounts in local shops when the owners learned they were music ambassadors, she said.
Fowler said she enjoyed the experience of traveling, seeing a musical in London’s famous West End, climbing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and seeing first-hand the majesty of the Alps.
“You can’t wake up angry anywhere in Switzerland,” she said. “You look out the window and you see the mountains and you can’t wake up angry.”
The experience left her with a desire to return to the continent to study abroad once she’s in college. A desire her parents encourage.
Her father, Bob Fowler said he thought the trip was a great opportunity for his daughter well worth the $5,000 price tag.
“For the price and you get to go on a tour, why not?” he said.
Meryl said she may consider going again since the program takes college students, and will encourage her younger sister — a trombonist — to apply.
“All you have to do is send in an audition tape,” she said.
For more information about the Ambassadors of Music, go to www.voyageursinternational.com.