Putting their money where the music is

Peter Haberman and Kevin Sütterlin, directors of the Concordia band and orchestra, have pledged to match up to $10,000 in donations for the orchestra and band students’ upcoming trip to Spain. 

The international tour, which sees the two groups give concerts, provide lessons and collaborate with bands and orchestras in the country they are touring, happens annually, with the band and orchestra alternating every two years.

The COVID-19 pandemic halted the band’s tour in 2020 as travel was restricted and many countries went into lockdown. Rather than wait four years for the next opportunity, meaning some students would not get the chance to perform internationally, Sütterlin and Haberman worked together to figure out a way to combine the trip so both groups could participate.

The tour, which will take place this May, currently has a little over 80 students participating, with expectations that a few more will sign up before the cut-off to join. Haberman said the groups have fundraised for trips in the past, but the COVID-19 pandemic had added a new set of challenges, both for the school and for students individually, and he and Sütterlin wanted to help offset the costs.

“Dr. Sütterlin and I both committed our own personal money to help,” said Haberman. “We wanted to try our best for anybody who wants to get that experience, to get that experience,” said Sütterlin. “I would hate for some of my students to miss out on performing abroad because money is an issue,” continued Sütterlin.

Several Concordia alumni and a community member have pledged their support as well.

“The people who are helping us match the $10,000 in donations are people we have established friendships with and who have a genuine interest in the band and orchestra,” said Sütterlin. Haberman said many of the alumni who offered their help had gone on their own international tour while at Concordia and know how beneficial it will be for students.

Kevin Sütterlin leading orchestra rehearsal. | Anna Kronbeck

While touring, the band and orchestra will have the opportunity to work with ensembles in the country as well as teach students at a school in Spain alongside their professors.

Haberman said they hoped students will form connections with the people they meet while touring and that it would deepen the experience. “We want our students to connect with their students — interact in really culturally significant ways through music,” continued Haberman.

“It’s about the people you meet, the friendships you make, the genuine relationships you form. I’m looking forward to our students seeing that and making lasting international friendships,” said Sütterlin.

Sophie Pepple, a violist in the orchestra, said the connection between the people in the orchestra is already strong and is excited for the opportunities the trip will provide. “I’m really looking forward to working with other ensembles outside of this community. The orchestra is like a family to me, and this will be a new bonding experience for everyone involved,” said Pepple.

Haberman and Sütterlin’s donation match was supposed to end Feb. 2, though Sütterlin said they have considered extending the deadline to reach their goal. Both directors said the campus community has rallied around their cause.

“Concordia has been known for its global experience and desire to send forth students with global perspectives. It’s been wonderful to see the support from the community as we move forward again in this new normal,” said Haberman.

“The community has been really generous,” said Sütterlin. From across the country and across the globe, donors have supported the program and have sponsored the trip.


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