The BYU Wind Symphony hit a high note in the land down under on their May tour. As they traveled throughout Australia, the BYU Wind Symphony held workshops with primary schools and universities—and still made time to sightsee.
After arriving in Sydney, the Wind Symphony toured the iconic Opera House. The group members admired the beautiful vaulted ceilings and listened to the Australian World Orchestra practice for an upcoming performance. Later the students performed with one of the country’s best wind symphonies, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Wind Symphony.
The members of the BYU Wind Symphony also joined Mormon Helping Hands to volunteer at the Greystanes Disability Services center. Alongside youth of the Penrith Australia Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they provided service by gardening and cleaning the center.
The group then traveled inland to Canberra, the capital city. The Wind Symphony members shared their love of music by holding a workshop and charity benefit concert at Canberra Girls Grammar School. All the proceeds were given to the Australian Red Cross. “The girls were all eager to learn and make music together. The two girls I sat next to asked so many questions and excitedly shared their life stories with us,” says trumpet player Abby Bates. “I actually just talked on the phone the other day with two girls I met. We’ve maintained a friendship, despite the distance and age difference.”
In Melbourne, the group attended an Aussie rules football game and later visited the southern coast. At sunset on Phillip Island, “[we] watched tons of penguins up close coming from the ocean, and [we] could hear the sound of waddling feet as they came by,” says clarinet player Jade Bliss.
The last stop on tour was Brisbane. In addition to forming bonds at workshops and rehearsals, the students also made furry friends at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, where they were able to hold and take pictures with the koalas.
Nearby, they held an open rehearsal with Queensland Wind and Brass. Conductors and band students from the general public were invited to come listen. It was a great learning opportunity for the community as they watched Don Peterson direct the BYU Wind Symphony.
In Brisbane City Hall, the Wind Symphony collaborated with musical theatre star Patrice Tipoki and also composer and guest conductor Ralph Hultgren, whose compositions the symphony performed throughout the tour. Tipoki joined the Wind Symphony for three spectacular performances in three different cities. “[Tipoki] has a stunning voice, powerful, expressive, and filled with great finesse,” says Bates. “She is so talented and yet maintains an incredibly humble and gracious attitude.”
After giving ten concerts, the members of the Wind Symphony left Australia having learned lessons from the musicians they performed with, both professional and novice. “I was impressed by how much passion the students played with,” says Bates. “It’s obvious that they have a clear love for music beyond performances or praise from others. It made me want to play more like them.”