More than 70 Concordia band students missed classes last week to share their music with local schools, churches, and communities around Minnesota.
“Tour is always fun because you spend a lot of time with friends,” said senior Rachel Miller, who plays French horn. “A lot of my really close friends are in band.”
Tour is a performance requirement for Concordia band members. According to Miller, it shows various areas of Minnesota what Concordia’s music program offers and recruits potential students through sharing their music with a new audience each day.
Samantha Adank, a freshman Euphonium player, said The Concordia Band planned sit in on high school band sessions and gave a performance for each community they visit.
“I’m really excited to work with the kids at the high school,” Adank said before tour. “I want to excite high school students.”
Laurel DiSera, a first-year flute and piccolo player, agreed with Adank.
“We go to different high schools and play songs with their bands at a concert,” she said. “We will be getting kids excited about music. I want to be able to open their eyes to the possibilities of what they can do.”
It’s not just about playing music for others, though. Tour also causes the band members to be closer, both in their friendships and in their musical abilities.
“(Tour) is an opportunity to endurance and push yourself to the next level. Every day I see what I can improve on,” said senior Tim Wisdom, who plays clarinet.
He and Jeremy Kramer, senior euphonium player, agreed that tour not only challenges individuals to improve but also challenges individuals to become better as an ensemble. This year, Concordia band members played for six consecutive days, performing up to three times in a single day. For this reason, the band’s sound becomes enhanced.
“It’s cool to play the same songs over different performances and to see how it evolves,” Kramer said.
A couple days into tour, some of the band members reacted to the week.
“I have very much enjoyed tour so far,” said DiSera, who is experiencing tour for her first time. “I just love playing the music, and our section has bonded so much. I really wasn’t expecting the strength of the bond we’ve formed. I feel like I have a family again, like I did in high school.”
Another unique tour experience involves spending some nights with host families rather than at hotels. These volunteer hosts are members of the community or parents of Concordia students or local band members.
“I was pretty intimidated by the idea of staying in a stranger’s house for the night,” Adank said, “but it’s been very enjoyable, and I’ve met very friendly and open people.”
Miller also enjoys the social aspect, including homestays.
“I honestly can’t think of one bad experience that I have had with a homestay on tour in all of the tours I have been on,” she said. “You know that the families… are doing so because they care about us and really support what we have to offer as Concordia musicians.”
This year Concordia musicians are experiencing an additional kind of support, as a result of a new leader. Peter Haberman, the band’s director, has continued the tradition of pre-performance devotions to put band members in a certain state of mind. In one of his devotionals, Dr. Haberman explained that tour is really where the band becomes “one” rather than a collection of 70 individuals.
DiSera agrees with this viewpoint.
“We’re just a lot tighter as a group,” she said. She also feels like a part of the band now, rather than just a person in the band.
Many of the band members said that performances toward the end of their tour went well. As a part of our tradition, the concerts end with a four-part chorus of Lutkin’s “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”.
DiSera said the room was silent when the band finished that last song.
“You could hear that the song had impacted so many people that they were crying from the beautifulness and happiness of it. You could hear people sniffling all through the whole church.”
Miller thinks pieces like that help people see the importance of music.
“I think last night’s end to the concert in Stillwater was particularly special,” Miller said on Sunday. “In my opinion,” Miller said, “moments like those really serve as reminders about why music is important and necessary in the world.”