Back on the Road: The Alumni Perspective

Posted on February 1st, 2018 by

GWO warms-up on stage prior to the concert at Uppsala University.

By Jennifer Vickerman ’97
Gift Planner

Greetings from Sweden!

It is wonderful to be traveling with the Gustavus Wind Orchestra on their tour of Sweden and Norway. I have fond memories of my international tour as a student in the Gustavus Choir in 1995, so it is a real treat to be traveling now as an administrator of the College and alumna. Helping provide this experience for current Gusties is so profound for me. On the international tour I participated in, there were great adult leaders such as Dennis ’60 and Carol Johnson and Dean ’73 and Jane ’75 Wahlund. Now, 23 years later, a new generation of Gustie adult leaders in Director of Scandinavian Studies Glenn Kranking ’98 and I are continuing the legacy.

The saxophone section performs during the concert at Uppsala University.

One of the highlights of the trip thus far was the performance the students gave at Uppsala University. The setting was stunning, and the sound in the room was warm with a lovely reverberation. This was the second concert on the tour, and only the second time I had heard Maslanka’s A Child’s Garden of Dreams. This five-movement work is like no other piece of music I have ever heard. I continue to be in awe of how quickly the students learned this complex piece, and how emotionally involved they are in bringing it to life. Conductor James Patrick Miller leads them through more meter changes than I can count, and does so with precision and intensity. Listeners are challenged by this music, and I am glad I get to hear it multiple times. It is truly exquisite.

My other favorite piece of music on the program is Andrew Boysen’s Song for My Children. The luscious beauty of this piece has brought me to tears at each performance. When I heard it in the concert hall in Uppsala, I had what I have lovingly come to describe as one of my “remember moments.” As I sat listening and watching these Gustavus students making glorious music, I remember what it was like for me to do so as a student. So many hours spent practicing and making music with friends! Now, in my role as a Gift Planner for Gustavus, I work with alumni, parents, and friends to secure gifts so these students and future Gusties can have the experience of making music at the College and out on tour. What a privilege and an honor!

Jennifer Vickerman ’97 and Glenn Kranking ’98 outside the Jussi Björling Museum.

One more highlight for me was our visit to the Jussi Björling Museum in Borlange. For those who are not familiar with him, Jussi was a famous tenor from Sweden, performing internationally for a number of years. He died much too young at the age of 49 of a heart attack. It was fun to see photos of him with many of the great leading sopranos of the ‘40s and ‘50s. The recital hall at Gustavus bears the Björling name, and I spent countless hours there as a student in Gustavus Choir rehearsals and preparing for my junior and senior recitals. The Björling Recital Hall is also where I auditioned to sing the Gustavus Alma Mater Song with the Gustavus Band during commencement. I have fond memories of preparing for this performance with the group when I was a senior student. At the time, I had no idea then that my life would take me back to Gustavus and I would be on tour with the ensemble many years later. What a blessing it is, and how glad I am to be traveling with the group on this life-changing tour!


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