May 13, 2009
Music students, faculty embark on China trip
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The academic year is over, and an ensemble of musicians from Southern Illinois University Carbondale is celebrating by going to China.
Members of the SIUC Concert Choir, SIUC Wind Ensemble and School of Music faculty departed from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport today (May 13) for a one-stop flight that will take them to Seoul, South Korea, and then to Beijing International Airport in China to begin their concert tour and cultural exchange in China.
The musical ensembles will perform three concerts during their tour, and will visit cultural sites in China, including the Great Wall, Olympic venues, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Qin Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors.
Susan Davenport, director of choral activities and the assistant director of the School of Music, said international travel was the next logical step for SIUC’s School of Music. Recent performances at state and national conventions, and a student ensemble debut at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall, indicate that the students are ready for such a challenge, she noted.
Christopher Morehouse directs the Wind Ensemble, and led his ensemble to Carnegie Hall last year. He said the job of getting more than 70 people -- including students, faculty and several parents -- to China is daunting.
“It’ll be great once we are there,” he said, just days before the scheduled departure. “The School of Music has enjoyed some successful concert performances, but we haven’t made travel arrangements anything like the scale of going to China for 10 days.”
Morehouse noted, too, that the cultural differences between China and the United States, as well as the language barrier, are both a thrill and challenge.
“There’s no faking it with Mandarin Chinese,” he said with a laugh, adding that the students have all learned at least a few basic phrases in Mandarin. “It’ll be interesting to see how they interact with the university students and musicians they meet there.”
SIUC freshman music major, Izabel Zambrzycki, from Antioch, said that though she has known for months she is bound for China, it seems an unreal prospect.
“I don’t think it will sink in until I’m sitting on the plane ready to take off,” she said. “Just the idea of being half-way around the world is amazing.”
Zambrzycki, a member of the wind ensemble, said she is not nervous about playing, as she feels the ensemble is well prepared. However, she is excited about playing for an audience so far from home.
“I hope they’re as excited to see us as we are to see them,” she said. “I hope the audience gets a sense of what the music culture is in America. And I hope to come back with the same -- a sense of what music is like in China and they consider repertoire.”
“I am really excited to see the Olympic venues and the Forbidden City,” Emily Plumlee, a Tamaroa resident and also a wind ensemble member, said. “And I am really looking forward to performing for a Chinese audience. I have been told that in China, venues with American musicians are often packed, because many of the people there have not had the opportunity to hear American music. Because the majority of the audience does not speak English, our musical communication will be even more important.”
Todd Epps, a member of the concert choir from Loda, said he hopes the concerts will give to the Chinese people in equal measure the excitement and cultural education that the SIUC students will receive from their visit.
“It’s cool that we have the opportunity to bring them something while we visit their country -- good ole’ American music,” he said.
“I just can’t believe all the files of things I’ll have in my memory banks after this trip,” Davenport said.
The ensemble returns home on May 23.
Here is a list, by hometown, of the SIUC students participating in the tour and cultural exchange with China.
Antioch -- Izabel Zambrzycki
Bloomington -- Erik Lehmkuhl
Carbondale -- William Bryant, Frank Cheon, James Davis, Kara Gregory, Jacob Hays, Eric Hendrickson, Anna Jackson
Carterville -- Travis Westbrook
Cary -- Laurie Lewis
Charleston -- Jessica Drake
Chester -- James G. Beers
Chicago -- William Barney, Sean Denison, Aaron Moore, Jordan Singer
Christopher -- Joshua Livesay
Cobden -- Metiney Suwanawongse
Collinsville -- Katelyn Ratliff
Columbia -- Audra Fuhr
Coulterville -- Kaylyn Gimber
Danvers -- Brian Clark
De Kalb -- Ross Weckesser
Dixon -- Jonathan Poquette
Du Quoin -- Lydia Dunmyer, Jeanne Millikin, James Minton
Fults -- Katilin Fahy
Hawthorne Woods -- Piotr Chudyba
Lockport -- Kayley Fitt-Handzik
Loda -- Todd Epps
Metropolis -- Michael Thompson
Murphysboro -- Jani Bryant, Jessica Herring, Timothy Wessel
O’Fallon -- Janelle Fitts
Peoria -- Walter Lewis
Ramsey -- Nathan Kingery
Salem -- Ryan Ham
Shiloh -- Kelsey Reger
Sparta -- Robert Reed
St. Charles -- Monica Bertrand
Tamaroa -- Emily Plumlee
Waterloo -- Caleb McCoy
Willow Springs -- Nicholas Cincotti
Wood River -- Casey Levan
Woodstock -- Nathan Staley
Calera -- Cordelia Anderson
Dora -- Gavin Murphy
Boise -- Alana Boltz
Bonne Terre -- Morgan Thurman
Oak Ridge -- Jason Miller
Cuyahoga Falls -- Sarah Besse
League City -- Jacquelyn McDole
Issaquah -- Paul Petrucelly
Silver Lake -- Jacob Vozel
Meng-Chun Chi -- assistant professor of violin, soloist
Susan Davenport -- Director of Choral Activities
Kathleen Ginther -- lecturer, composed original piece for performance
Christopher Morehouse -- Director of Wind Ensemble