The Final Performance: reflections from a senior

Posted on February 9th, 2018 by

By Ryan O’Neil ’18

I’m a senior physics major, bassoon section leader, and senior student conductor of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra for the Sweden and Norway tour. Two days ago was our final concert in Scandinavia, and truthfully, it was not the experience I expected to have. Being my final tour concert away from Gustavus, I was excited for the great grand slam concert we were going to have and to finish my touring experience with the greatest concert of my life.

That’s not what happened. Frankly, it was just an alright concert. Mistakes were made, and it was definitely not our best (that award going to the previous performance in Oslo). The post concert experience was still what you would expect though: heavy emotions not just in the seniors, but also in the underclassmen whose tears ran with the joy of the experience and the sadness of it ending.

The day after the concert, a few of us made it to the peak of Mt. Ulriken, the tallest mountain in Bergen, Norway. On our hike down, we often found ourselves isolated in fog with no trail markers, only the occasional ski track to guide us, but surrounded in pure beauty. In this time I was really able to contemplate what GWO has meant to me, and I was struck by how small I am in what this band really is. No, I did not get the grandeur final tour concert that I was hoping for, and that’s okay because the band does not owe that to me; it’s not about me. Players came before me and players will come after me who sit in the same chair, each with their own set of magnificent experiences. 

Alone in the trees on the mountain, we listened to music we’ve played with GWO in the past. Listening to Maslanka’s 4th symphony brought me to tears remembering the experiences I had and the connections I made with that music and the people I shared it with. This band gives and gives to everyone in it in a deeply emotional way, and now I can only say how honored and humbled I am by what GWO has given to me, whether I’m sitting in the band or standing in front of it. And now all I have left is to try my best to give it all back at our home concert.


One Comment

  1. Al Behrends says:

    Well said Ryan. Congrats to you all on a great experience. We are looking forward to hearing the concert in Björling.