Frightened by recent terrorist attacks on Americans in Europe, a La Canada High School choral group has canceled a long-planned summer invitational tour of Austria and Germany.
"Terrorism is a definite threat, especially for a large group of youth from this country," said John Kelsey, director of the La Canada High School Concert Choir and Madrigal Singers. "I didn't feel that any of us should be put in a position to jeopardize our health and safety."
The 50-member group was one of four California choirs receiving an invitation to compete at the 15th Annual International Youth and Music Festival, scheduled this July in Vienna. Only one of the four groups plans to attend, Kelsey said.
Kelsey drew mixed responses when, at an emergency meeting of students and parents held two Sundays ago, he announced the canceling of the trip. But last week, after the U. S. bombed Libyan bases in Tripoli and Benghazi and disaster was narrowly averted when London airport officials discovered a bomb planted on an Israeli airliner, more students swung over to Kelsey's side.
Caroline Tiffany, who sings soprano in the choir, said she was "really upset" after hearing that her dream trip to Europe, which she and other students had planned for more than a year, had evaporated.
"But now, with what's going on in Libya, I'm glad because I wouldn't want to subject myself to that risk," the 18-year-old senior said.
Domenic D'Arcy, president of the steering committee for the Vienna trip and father of a choir member, said school officials and parents supported Kelsey's decision. But D'Arcy said he plans to visit Europe this summer with his family, regardless of terrorist activity.
"Europe has been there a long time. I could give you all sorts of statistics about terrorist attacks . . . It's more dangerous to stay here," said D'Arcy's son, Simon, who sings tenor.
Instead of Vienna, the choir and madrigal group may travel to Florida this summer to perform at Walt Disney World and Epcot Center, with a short cruise in the Bahamas thrown in as consolation, Kelsey said.
The trip would be financed by about $26,000 that students and La Canada Flintridge community groups have collected through fund-raisers. Part of the money might also be earmarked to establish a music scholarship, Kelsey said.