Thoughts on Tour from the Conductors

Posted on April 16th, 2016 by

After coming back from tour, GSO and G-Jazz had a flurry of concerts including a MMEA performance, our home concert, and others. When we were asked to write about our touring experience for the Friends of Music Newsletter, we were glad to have some time to reflect and collect our thoughts.

The 2016 Gustavus Symphony Orchestra and Gustavus Jazz Lab Band International Tour to Greece and Macedonia included a lot of “firsts” for all of us. It was the first time that two ensembles have traveled and toured internationally together, the first time there were over 80 students on a tour, the first time a composition was written specifically for an international tour for our two ensembles by our very own music faculty, the first time we featured a vocalist as part of an instrumental tour, the first time we saw and heard different types of Greek folk music, the first time we performed in such a large diversity of venues (ranging from the Skopje Opera House to a very strangely shaped room at a music school in Patras), the first time our concert was broadcasted live to an entire country, the first time we collaborated with a foreign celebrity, the first time we had to print two sets of programs because the two countries we were traveling to have a long standing spat over the name “Macedonia,” the first time we saw so many beautiful sunsets in a row, the first time we took a run in the first Olympic Stadium, and the first time we were practically overrun with stray cats and dogs. Additionally, there were even more personal and individual “firsts” for many of our students. For some, it was the first time they had traveled abroad, for others it was the first time they were on a flight longer than 2 hours, and for still others it was the first time they saw anything older than 250 years.

For us, the faculty members, there were also many “firsts”. Due to the two-week-long, 24/7 nature of the tour, we learned the quirks, habits, and temperaments of our students that we had never known previously. We discovered which ones are really good at road trip games, which ones fall asleep as soon as they get in the bus, which ones are the ‘moms’ and ‘dads’ of the group, which ones are early risers and which ones will always cut it close when it comes to breakfast, which ones are the photographers that are always snapping pictures, which ones really love dogs and cats, and which ones are always packing vitamins or dramamine. Most importantly, we were affirmed in our belief that our students are not only wonderful musicians, but also wonderful human beings who are appreciative of this amazing opportunity and curious about the world beyond themselves. They are people who want to sincerely connect with and learn from the various people they encounter, and who practice the idea of community in the way they took care of each other and took care of us. As faculty members, what more could we have asked for?

Dr. Lin & Dr. Stamps


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