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The Wind Ensemble’s first international tour
They played at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, St. Mary's Cathedral in Killarney, Trinity College in Dublin, and the Dublin Airport. These were concert stops for The Radford University Wind Ensemble’s March 2016 trip to Ireland.
This unprecedented tour for the Department of Music was the largest performance ensemble the university has sent overseas. It included 42 students and four faculty members. And 20 years have passed since the ensemble last traveled.
Director of Bands and Instrumental Music Education, Wayne Gallops, led this effort. The planning for this trip began three years ago when he polled band members about what country interested them most and was affordable. Ireland topped the list.
“Because our university had such little experience touring large intact ensembles overseas, I felt such an extended endeavor/process would reap lasting benefit for our students, college, and university,” he said.
For the students who auditioned for their seats in the Wind Ensemble, there are many benefits to touring overseas with the group. They received Scholar Citizen Initiative course credits and global life lessons.
“The opportunity to perform internationally opens up one's perspective on how universal music is,” said Jeremy Marks, a senior percussion student. “Playing with other students in Dublin was especially rewarding. Growing up thousands of miles apart, we were still able to just sit down and make music together.”
Their largest audience was in Dublin at the airport. Gallops said thousands witnessed this two-hour charity concert, which raised funds for cancer survivors. A local concert band who regularly performs there hosted them. Ireland’s SKY Network Television interviewed members of the Wind Ensemble and played clips of the performance.
Gallops said this was a great networking opportunity for the university and they may have recruited a new oboist from Virginia who was also visiting at the same time.
During their day at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Radford faculty held masterclasses and several of the ensemble’s principle musicians played side by side with Irish students. Later the groups switched and the academy’s conductor, Fergus O'Carroll, worked with the Radford students.
O'Carroll is the head of the Wind, Brass and Percussion Faculty and is the principal horn player with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. He is also a composer. Upon the Wind Ensembles first concert back in the U.S., they will play the American-premier of O'Carroll’s “Song Without Words.” This concert is at 7:30 p.m., March 25 at the Performance Hall in the Covington Center. Admission is free.
A McGlothlin travel grant, the Scholar Citizen Initiative, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, the Department of Music, patrons and students provided funding for this trip.
“This tour represents a larger CVPA initiative for the coming years,” said Margaret Devaney, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “In representing the college internationally for the first time with such a large ensemble, we hope to increase the number of international travel performance opportunities for each department represented by the college. This tour paves the way for our global interactions at international venues for the foreseeable future.”