With 154 students, 16 faculty and staff and three security personnel, the 2016-2017 Music Tour was the largest tour to date. This year, with the numbers in Band increasing by 15 percent, the Music Department decided to run two parallel tours where Band will go to one location and Choir and Orchestra together will go to another. The tours will take place at the same time in order to minimize the effect it has on the school this year.
Multiple factors played a role in the change in format, one being the increased number of students who participate in music. K-12 Performing Arts Director Gordon Graham has led Music Tour since joining ASL. He noticed an increase in participation, which lead him to decide to split the tours. “We have seen a considerable increase in the number of students enrolling, for particularly the Band in the High School. About a third of the population of the High School student body is enrolled in Band, Orchestra or Choir,” Graham said.
The main problem is there simply aren’t hotels and concert venues large enough to house all the students who partake as well as to the chaperones needed to accompany the tour. “There’s a limitation in finding certain venues,” Graham said.
In addition, a core aspect of the Music Department is the importance of each individual musician. With a smaller tour, the hope is that students will have an increased role in their performances. This could include giving chamber groups and smaller ensembles more opportunities to perform together.
Performing Arts Teacher Carolyn Stock-Chapin noticed the previous format of the tour limited student involvement, unless they were in multiple ensembles. “In order for everyone to have that authentic experience… we split the tour,” she said.
Without the complex setup of the and equipment, Graham hopes there will be more performances for Orchestra and Choir on their tour. “Hopefully what we’re going to find this year is that Choir and Orchestra will be leaner and meaner and perhaps even play more concerts,” Graham said. “There’s no reason why they couldn’t fit in two concerts comfortably in one day. We’ve never been able to do that in the Band.”
However, one of the drawbacks with the new tour format is that students will not be able to hear music produced by other ensembles. “What would be missing is that opportunity to travel with your colleagues in the different discipline areas of the performing arts, but we have something in place for that as well with the new homecoming concert,” Stock-Chapin said.
The homecoming concert will involve all three ensembles and will take place at an offsite venue on May 22.
Additionally, for some students, the new format presents challenges as they must choose which tour to attend.
Russell Cornelius (’20) must decide between Band and Choir/Orchestra because he cannot participate in both tours. He will make a decision on which tour to attend with his music teachers considering factors such as which tour they will get the most out of and their role in each ensemble.
Cornelius is willing to go on either tour but the main factor in his decision is how much he is needed in each ensemble.
Cornelius understands the reasoning behind the change, but is disappointed about having to make a decision on what tour he goes on and not being able to go on tour with friends who are a part of different ensembles. “[Having separate tours] really divides us up more because last year I remember everyone hung out with each other,” Cornelius said. “Obviously they did it for certain reasons but the Band is just not going to be unified with the Choir and Orchestra [this year].”
This tour format is the initial idea as it is the first time having parallel tours. Looking forward, the Music Department does not expect there to be much fluctuation in numbers. Thus, they will continue to plan separate tours in order for students to have the best musical experience. “It’s very difficult to predict how big an ensemble is going to be but if this proves to be a positive experience for everyone particularly the students [we will keep this tour format],” Graham said.
Both tours are scheduled to take place from April 19 to April 22. Tour venues and locations are undecided as of now, however, the Music Department hopes to confirm in the coming weeks.