Tales from Abroad – Sydney Hedberg

In January 2018, the Gustavus Wind Orchestra embarked on a sixteen-day life-changing tour to Sweden and Norway.

Six concerts were performed on this tour, allowing the ensemble to share its music throughout the Swedish cities of Stockholm, Uppsala, Falun and Karlstad, as well as the Norwegian cities of Oslo and Bergen.

The Gustavus Wind Orchestra has toured every year since 1881, standing as the oldest collegiate touring ensemble west of the Mississippi River.

Touring remains, and will continue to remain, a highly significant aspect of what we do as an ensemble.

“Our first concert helped us realize the extraordinary value of our effort and dedication.” – Natalie Johnson

“Touring is the single most important aspect of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra” Dr. James Patrick Miller, conductor of the ensemble, said.

Being a second-year member of the ensemble, I can attest to the fact that touring internationally provides us all with an opportunity to share our music with others, develop as musicians, and connect with other members of the group.

Miller believes that touring additionally binds the musicians indescribably to the music that is performed. “Throughout tour, the program grows, matures, changes, and leads us all to new and unexpected places”, Miller said.

Each concert on tour provides the ensemble with a different audience to share our music with. Each venue, ranging from concert halls and theaters to cathedrals and churches, gave the Gustavus Wind Orchestra (GWO) a unique acoustical and artistic experience.

I can easily say that the performance venues we played in on this tour have been the most beautiful places that I have ever performed in, and I’m sure many other GWO members would agree.

These performances touched many different audience members, whether they were students, children, family members or Scandinavian citizens. But not only do these concerts impact the audience members, they imprint on the GWO members as well.

Emily Sasik, McKenzie Perry, Sydney Hedberg, Elise Stepka, Shauna Capron, & Carly Miller pose for a photo.

“Our first concert helped us realize the extraordinary value of our effort and dedication” Natalie Johnson, first-year oboe player, said after reflecting on all the hours we had spent rehearsing our tour repertoire prior to leaving for Scandinavia.

Not only do we grow musically on tour, but additionally we undergo new experiences, immerse ourselves in a new culture, and grow individually as people.

Through visits to Stockholm’s Vasa Ship Museum, the Nobel museum, and a guided tour of Stockholm’s Royal Palace, we got to experience and educate ourselves about Sweden’s history and culture.

We were given the opportunity to participate in mass at Sofia Church in Stockholm, providing all of us with an opportunity to surround ourselves and participate in an element of Swedish culture.

Visits to both the Jussi Bjorling Museum and the home of Edward Grieg gave us the opportunity to expand upon our musical knowledge and see something that means so much to all of us.

Additionally, we got to view Norwegian art in the Varmsland museum, see the famous Oslo sculpture garden, and visit Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum and Fram Museum, giving us insight into Norwegian culture and history.

A highlight of the trip for many was a fjord boat tour through Norway’s picturesque Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord. Nærøyfjorden, one of Europe’s narrowest fjords, provided us with dramatic views of snow-capped mountains.

“Every second [of tour] has been an ILCE (incredible, life-changing experience)” Emily Komperud, President of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra said.

Sharing these experiences as a group of 84 musicians, alongside staff members James Patrick Miller, Dr. Heidi Miller, Karrin Meffert-Nelson, Mara Klein, Glenn Kranking, Jennifer Vickerman and three members of the companion tour, allows us to connect with and relate to one another.

“Touring abroad together draws us all closer to one another, teaching us in every moment how to respect, understand, listen to and interact with those around us” Miller said.

“Touring internationally provides us all with an opportunity to share our music with others, develop as musicians, and connect with other members of the group.”

The Gustavus Wind Orchestra gives us the opportunity to form relationships with students in other grades, as well as many different majors who are all bound together by one thing: music.

President Emily Komperud reflects on the group’s dynamic and is “proud to consider [herself] a leader of these great players and people.”

Natalie Johnson, after spending only one semester and one January Interim with the Gustavus Wind Orchestra considers herself “lucky to be a part of this group for three more years is a blessing [and thinks she] never could have imagined a year ago.”

Whether it’s through the memory of sharing our music throughout Scandinavia, the friendships that were formed within the ensemble, or the memories of the incredible scenery, this tour will remain in our memories for years to come, for both the students and the directors.

“The times that we all shared together on tour will resonate with me for the remainder of my life. Since the first day I met GWO in September 2008 I have loved the ensemble, but not as much as I do today, after sharing this tour together with 96 of the greatest people I know” James Patrick Miller said.