The longest journey begins with the first step.
For the past week, the 68-member Gustavus Wind Orchestra and conductor Douglas Nimmo have been taking those first steps as they are engaged in daily classes, intensive rehearsals, sectionals and private practice. They are taking those first steps on an adventure that will take them on a 16-day, 5-country European concert tour journey from January 22 – February 7 that may very well be the most memorable journey of their young lives.
Their preparation begins early each day with an 8:30 – 10:00 class in history, politics, culture, economics and language with former Dean of the College and music faculty emeritus David Fienen. The daily schedule continues after a break for Morning Chapel with a 10:30 – 11:30 brass sectional and a 11:30 – 12:30 full rehearsal followed by time off for lunch. At 2:00, the woodwind players a one hour sectional followed by another full ensemble rehearsal from 3:00 – 4:30. Hours during the day that are not scheduled include smaller section rehearsals and personal practice. The evenings for the most part are free with exceptions for meetings, concerts, movies and gatherings planned around the tour planning.
Some of the members of the ensemble have traveled abroad and have an understanding of what to expect. Bassist Ian McNally from Adrian, Mich., feels the greatest challenge for these rehearsal weeks is to maintain focus even after hours of playing. However, he is looking forward to being in Europe and excited about the instruments he’ll be playing on the tour and “all the people we’ll meet.” First-time international traveler Kacie Foster, a junior from Chanhassen, Minn., echoes McNally’s assessment but is most excited for the “opportunity to share our music, share new experiences with each other and travel to so many different places.”
The greatest challenge of the two weeks leading up to the concert tour may well be maintaining focus and always pushing to improve every aspect of the music from the individual player to the section to the entire wind orchestra. The days are rigorous. From the rehearsal podium, conductor Douglas Nimmo challenges the ensemble in rehearsal to not accept “almost good enough.” The work done on these sections after rehearsal is essential as the ensemble moves forward into its final week of preparation for the tour.
The stage is nearly set and the first steps on this “great adventure” are being taken. In two weeks, the adventure will take flight. The journey may begin with that first small step, the Prelude. That next step, the one from Minneapolis to Prague, is much, much larger.
Follow the Gustavus Wind Orchestra’s 2014 concert tour on this blog and on Twitter at #GWOtour14.
Gustavus Wind Orchestra
Douglas Nimmo, conductor
2014 Concert Tour Itinerary
Friday, January 24, 6:00 p.m., St. Simon and Judah, Prague, Czech Republic
Sunday, January 26, 7:00 p.m., The Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, Miechów, Poland
Tuesday, January 28, 7:00 p.m., St. Katherine’s Church, Krakow, Poland
Thursday, January 30, 7:00 p.m., The Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Kety, Poland
Saturday, February 1, 6:00 p.m., Pomaz Music School, Pomaz (Budapest), Hungary
Tuesday, February 4, 3:30 p.m., The Orangerie at Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria
February 5, 7:30 p.m., The Congress and Theatre House, Bad Ischl, Austria
February 15, 1:30 p.m., Home Concert at Björling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College