Over the years, Alabama – and Tuscaloosa specifically – have created partnerships with cities in other countries. Tuscaloosa welcomed a group of music students from a high school in its sister city Schorndorf, Germany.

“In Germany we love jazz,” band member Paul said. “We bring the jazz from America back to America.”

The Big Band from the Max-Planck Gymnasium in Schorndorf traveled nearly 5,000 miles to perform at Paul W. Bryant High School on Oct. 11. Teachers said they want all students to make a connection through new friendships and through music.

“I think this is very important because in these days they want to separate from each other and building walls and this is not a good idea, I think, so music can help bring the people together and that’s what we do,” band director Frank Kroll said.

The connection between these sister cities is going on 33 years, and the partnership was not just picked at random.

“Schorndorf was selected because it’s the birthplace of Gottlieb Daimler,” said Lisa Keyes, the executive director of Tuscaloosa Sister Cities International. “That’s the connection between Schorndorf and Tuscaloosa. We have ongoing exchanges, both student and adult exchanges.”

This was only the students’ third day in the U.S. but seemed to be enjoying it so far. They toured Atlanta before coming to Tuscaloosa, and playing this first concert of their trip.

“I mean, it’s great to show to other people how we make music and to bring our music to the U.S. and to show them how we play,” band member Manuel said. “We are very happy to be here.”

“I really like America,” band member Utku said. “I like to travel and also like to play music, so it’s all in one, so perfect for me.”

“We’re getting the whole impression,” band member Matteo said. “It’s like, you cannot grab one point out. It’s like the whole trip here is something really special.”

Each student had their favorite part of the trip thus far, whether it was playing their music or exploring what America has to offer.

“Actually the concert right now,” band member Franzi said. “It was crazy because the people are so kind and so welcoming.”

“The concert, there’s a very good atmosphere here in the audience,” Paul said. “And the burgers are very good in America. Yes, it’s very tasty.”

The band’s second performance was at the Kentuck Festival of the Arts on Oct. 12 at 9:30 a.m. They also visited sites around Tuscaloosa including the Jemison-Van De Graaff Mansion and the Moundville Archaeological Park.

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