And here, the UNCG Wind Ensemble launched its 2016 summer tour of Europe – the first European tour in the ensemble’s history.
Dr. John Locke and Dr. Kevin Geraldi led the tour, for which the students could earn academic credit.
For Locke, that initial concert in one of Europe’s oldest concert halls was the highlight. “The place was all but full.”
For Geraldi, a concert in Innsbruck, surrounded by snow-capped Alps, was another highlight. “It was a fundraiser for their version of a Ronald McDonald House. The audience was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and they all wanted to talk with us at a reception following the concert.”
That post-concert reception and interaction in Innsbruck made that concert the favorite of Music doctoral student JR Lake Jr, studying to be a conductor. He conducted at most of the concerts.
Justin Swaim, who just completed his master’s in conducting, also conducted at most of the performances – and loved everything about their time in Innsbruck. “It was nice playing for a packed house. The energy was really great.”
The ensemble played concerts in Prague, Czech Republic; Bad Ischl, Austria; Innsbruck, Austria; Bologna, Italy; and Rome, Italy. In addition to touring in those cities, they also visited the historic sights in Salzburg, Austria; Florence, Italy; and Venice, Italy.
Their double-decker bus took them from city to city, with a trailer behind, through tight ancient city streets and through Alpine tunnels.
They’d rehearsed for the tour in the two weeks before they left, on May 10, for the twelve day journey. They played six concerts. It was a for-credit course. SMTD scholarships payed for a portion of these student expenses. Sixty-eight UNCG students were part of the tour.
Complementing the students’ tour, a group of alumni and friends of the university enjoyed their own tour of Europe, where they saw several of the ensemble’s concerts.
Nathan Phillips, who played trombone for the UNCG Wind Ensemble, called the ensemble journey a one-in-a-lifetime trip. Jared Gilbert, who also played trombone, noted it was his first time abroad.
Geraldi explains that for many students it was their first trip beyond our border. “It was life-changing for the students.” They got to perform in wonderful, historic auditoriums – and they were able to see some of the most historic places in Western culture.
By Mike Harris
Photography by Brad McMillan of the ensemble in Prague’s Dvořák Hall