Early this morning (Friday, April 8), Northwestern’s symphonic band left campus to go on their annual weekend tour. Stops on the tour will be in towns where members of the band have connections, including Marshalltown, hometown of Ellen Podhajsky; Des Moines, hometown of Jenn Van Riesen and Britta and Collin Ten Haken; and Conrad, hometown of Leigh Carson.
The band will be playing in a variety of venues, ranging from churches to schools. To be prepared for each event’s audience, the band has put together a wide selection of music to appeal to each of the audiences they will be playing to.
“We want to have as much variety as possible,” said Tim McGarvey, symphonic band director. “We will be doing a variety of selections, from a jazzy piece like Elegy for Miles Davis featuring a solo with Drew Lemke to a variation of the classical hymn Wayfaring Stranger to a couple of pieces from Westside Story.”
Because of the wide variety, students are excited about the music they’ll be playing as well. Clarinet player Emily Laackmann looks forward most to playing a highly unique piece.
“My favorite piece to play is Red Machine by Peter Graham,” Laackmann said. “I like the extreme contrast that happens in the piece between the aggressive beginning and ending of the piece and the slow, chorale-like middle section. It is an intense, yet beautiful piece and I love that the opening phrase of ‘Ein Feste Burg’ (A Mighty Fortress) is used in this piece.”
McGarvey has made it the goal of the band to not only play lovely music while on tour, but also to engage with one another in ministry and prayer.
“Time off campus with students is always rewarding,” McGarvey said. “It gives us the chance to minister not only to others that we encounter, but also to minister amongst the band and share our stories with one another.”
While the band will be playing a lot of concerts on tour, that’s not all they’ll be doing. Clarinet player Victoria Horn is nervous, but looking forward to the afternoon of service the band will be taking part in while in Des Moines.
“Every year on band tour, we devote an afternoon to a service project. This year we’ll be working at Hope Ministries in Des Moines,” Horn said. “As someone who hasn’t done a ton of service projects and gets pretty jittery working with new people, I’m feeling the nerves. But it’s a comforting reminder that our main aim is to show people God’s love and let God work through us, not to show off who we are.”
The band has set some goals for the concerts they’ll be playing while on tour in an effort to achieve something greater to further God’s Kingdom in using their natural gifts to benefit others.
“We have a number of goals,” McGarvey said. “Our primary goal is to use our musical gifts as something God gives us to give away to others. In doing so, we can use these gifts to minister with those we don’t normally have contact with. Overall, we just hope to impact the lives of those we are in contact with and allow God to take care of what He does with that time we spend together.”
The band will return from tour Sunday evening and have some time off before their next concert. The band will then come back together to host a home concert for the public featuring a number of pieces played on tour at 7:30 p.m., April 29 in Christ Chapel.