Reflections of International Music Tours

Posted on May 20th, 2010 by

Written by Jaimie Farel ’10

Eye opening.

Life changing.


Gustavus Adolphus College student musicians commonly speak these short but profound statements after international music tours.

The tours challenge students’ thinking and broadens their horizons. “Going international reminds you that there is a world out there besides what we see here, or what we’ve encountered in our country,” says Sam Maranell ’10, an English major who traveled with the Gustavus Wind Orchestra to Eastern and Central Europe in January 2010.

The Gustavus Wind Orchestra in Prague, Czech Republic (Photo by Al Behrends '77)

“They also force you to go beyond your normal life and experience new things,” says Karl Boettcher ’11, a classics major. Gustavus musicians will continue to travel the world and connect with others, even with language and culture barriers, through the power of music.

“For a short amount of time, we have an impact on the lives of other people, even when we don’t speak their language. That’s what’s important: learning that there is a shared experience through something even without a common language,” says Maranell.

One unique experience of Gustavus musicians is the opportunity to perform their talent at places other than Gustavus by traveling across the nation and throughout the world. Each year, a major ensemble embarks on a life-changing opportunity, an international tour. In 2010, the Gustavus Wind Orchestra made their 16-day journey through Eastern and Central Europe. In 2008, the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra toured several regions of China. In 2007, the Gustavus Choir toured Spain and Portugal.

An international music tour proves to be no vacation. Students spend countless hours practicing, rehearsing, and attending a class focused on the regions they will visit.

According to students who were on the Eastern European tour 2010, the hard work is well worth it. “It is something so extraordinary you can’t forget it. It gives you stories and experiences you can relate to your grandkids while chomping on your dentures,” says Boettcher.

“I fell in love with Eastern Europe. I never wanted to leave. I didn’t know what to expect, but I do know that I wouldn’t change a thing that happened while there,” says Maranell.

Maranell was so inspired by her experience in Eastern Europe with the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, she wants to return soon. The day after coming home, she completed her application to the Peace Corps, listing Eastern Europe as her location preference.

“So in a way, tour confirmed what I had already known: that Eastern Europe was going to be somewhere where I would like to spend a significant amount of time,” says Maranell. “I felt completely at home in Eastern Europe, something I would never have known if it weren’t for tour.” Maranell was accepted in to the Peace Corps, but is not sure she will be placed in Eastern Europe.

Planning is underway for future international music tours. In 2011, the Gustavus Choir will travel to Italy.

This short video shows a few of the memorable experiences from members of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, captured during their tour throughout Eastern Europe.


One Comment

  1. Brit Barkholtz says:

    What a great article and video, Jaimie. 🙂 I don’t think anybody could ever fully put our experience into words, but I think what you’ve done here has come about as close as it can get.