Wind ensemble headed to Japan
After being postponed last year because of the tsunami, ensemble makes its way
Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 20:07
This summer, the Oregon State University Wind Ensemble will travel to Japan to play in a variety of festivals on Kyushu Island. This tour will be conductor Dr. Christopher Chapman’s first in his 6-year tenure as director of bands at OSU.
“The bands have traveled internationally very seldom. Tours have included Japan and Costa Rica. This will be the first such tour under my baton,” Chapman said.
The Wind Ensemble was scheduled to travel to Japan last year, but the tsunami caused the trip to be canceled. “One of the toughest days of my life [was] telling the band that we couldn’t go,” Chapman said.
The trip, which lasts from June 16 to 26, will give the students a lot of exposure to Japanese culture. The band will be performing in Iizuka, Satsuma-Sendai and Amakusa, as well as visiting Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Kumamoto.
“Each town we are visiting is allowing our students into their homes as part of a home-stay experience. Each of our students will have the opportunity, therefore, to actually be part of the Japanese culture. This is a high honor, since home-stays are not a normal occurrence in that country,” Chapman said.
Dr. Chapman’s former conducting teacher, Takayoshi Suzuki, organized the tour. “The festivals we have been invited to include concerts by bands [of] all levels, from elementary school bands all the way up to community bands, and they all have a meaningful connection to their master teacher, Suzuki,” Chapman said.
Dr. Chapman lauded Japan’s band programs. “The reason I chose Japan is simple: they have the best band programs in the world.” Chapman went on to say, “Their elementary school bands play better than 80 percent of all American college groups.”
The Wind Ensemble will showcase the music they will be playing in Japan on Sunday, June 10, at the LaSells Stewart Center at 3 p.m. OSU students, staff and faculty get in free with their OSU ID cards.
“The concert is called ‘Nihon e Ikimasho! (Let’s Go to Japan!)’” said Jenna Gagne, one of the graduate assistants for the band program.
When selecting songs for the trip to Japan, Dr. Chapman consulted with several of his colleagues. “I asked several of my colleagues from around the country, who have taken their bands to Japan, about their repertoire selections, and from their discussions I decided to perform music considered truly American,” he said. “We will be playing: “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” by Bernstein; “O Magnum Mysterium,” by Northwest American composer Lauridsen; the “Star Wars Trilogy,” by Williams; and “Rhapsody in Blue,” by George Gershwin.”
The cost of the trip was greatly lowered for students by the Student Incidental Fees Committee and the people of Japan. “Each town is sponsoring our performance and is purchasing our hotels, busses, rental of concert halls and programs,” Dr. Chapman said. “The SIFC is getting us to Japan, a generous contribution that has allowed students [who are] financially [unstable] to participate [in] the trip.”
“The Wind Ensemble is the premiere music group on campus,” Gagne said. “It is audition only, one player per part and includes no strings.” The Wind Ensemble holds rehearsals on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 to 5:20 p.m.
“We warm up, play [the] pieces [on] the schedule, and we [also] go to rehearsal to learn everyone else’s part so that we can make music together,” Gagne said.
Vinay Ramakrishnan, reporter
On Twitter: @VinayPDX