“One of the most important things that tour does is really to get the name of Hope College out there,” Gabe Southard, director of Hope College’s wind ensemble, said.
The band began the tour yesterday and will continue traveling until Wednesday, when they return home. Wind ensemble is composed of 39 students who auditioned for the ensemble, who also have different academic backgrounds.
Kaitlyn Rustemeyer (’19) and Matt Gilbert (’19) play clarinet and trumpet in the ensemble, respectively. Both joined the ensemble for different reasons—Rustemeyer received the Distinguished Artist Award scholarship and Gilbert wanted to be a part of as many ensembles as possible—yet both share a deep love for the art.
As Southard detailed, the pieces they played include a good mixture and representation from different countries, including Brazil, the U.K. and France, among others. There is also a piece from Dr. Who, which will be played for an elementary school the ensemble is visiting.
The wind ensemble meets Monday and Wednesday nights, and typically has two major performances every semester. During the pre-tour concert Wednesday, they started with some of the trickier pieces. However, every performance during the tour will have a different order because they have such a wide selection.
Over the course of the tour, Southard’s group will perform at four or five high schools and a couple churches. They are traveling to the Detroit area, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Ohio while they are gone. During their travels, the group stays at hotels and also has a couple “home stays,” where families welcome small groups of students into their homes.
Southard is looking forward to their day in Philadelphia, when they will have a musical clinic with a former MSU faculty member, have dinner at an Italian restaurant and watch the Philadelphia Symphony perform.
Both Rustemeyer and Gilbert enjoy bonding with classmates and exploring the places they visit. Along with a shared passion for music, the group is able to grow close through extensive travel. It is a “familial atmosphere,” as Gilbert put it. Yet participation in a musical ensemble is enjoyable in itself.
“It’s a great way to understand music as a group of people and it’s teamwork because you can’t just rely on yourself. You have to rely on other people,” she said. “Before we work on it it’s just notes on a page, but we have the power to make art out of it.”
Rustemeyer and Gilbert appreciate “Lincolnshire Posy” by Percy Aldridge Grainger, who “wrote the piece by going around England and recording a bunch of gypsies and other random folk singers,” as Gilbert said. “It has so many opportunities for us as players, like the fifth movement so I think it’s really cool that it can be different every single time, in that movement.”
The group has the privilege of creating a wonderful experience for their listeners with their instruments. Gilbert stated, “The ability to be able to feel all of these different emotions in the span of 7-8 minutes…is just really, really great. Playing music makes people more empathetic individuals and they have a more open perspective to life.”
Similarly, Gilbert added that music as a whole is “a release to something that’s so much greater than yourself. Music can evoke so many different emotions in people.”
Overall, the wind ensemble tour provides great opportunities for Hope students, but also for the listeners. Southard stated, “The tour for us is basically a recruiting tour.” Throughout their performances, the group is able to showcase the hard work ethic and positivity at Hope.
In a final comment, Southard said, “[The students] have always been a great representation of what Hope College really is.”