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W&M Wind Ensemble performs in England, Scotland

  • Visitors perform:
    Visitors perform:  The William & Mary Wind Ensemble performs at St. George’s Church, Bloomsbury, in London during its visit to the United Kingdom in May.  Photo by Sheryl Modlin
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Among the unique experiences of the William & Mary Wind Ensemble’s May trip to England and Scotland was a session with British composer Adam Gorb.

The ensemble toured and played in various locales and worked with Gorb on one of his pieces.

“The session that we had with Adam Gorb was really special to me and to the students because we played some of his music on the tour,” said Wind Ensemble Director Richard Marcus. “We had a wonderful clinic with Gorb on his Summer Dances before we played the piece on our London concert.”

Wind Ensemble members at their workshop with British composer Adam Gorb, center. (Photo by Richard Marcus)The ensemble performed a concert for young children at the High School of Dundee, Scotland, as well as a concert at the National Centre for Early Music in York, England, and at St. George’s Church, Bloomsbury, London. The visit to London included the workshop with Gorb, who is head of composition at the Royal Northern College of Music.

Sites toured included St. Andrews University and Cathedral, Cambridge University, Edinburgh Castle, Alnwick Castle, York Minster and Westminster Abbey. The group also attended a performance by the Britten Sinfonia at the Barbican Centre and went on a cruise on Loch Lomond and a river cruise on the Thames.

“The workshop we had with Professor Adam Gorb was especially interesting as it gave me a deeper appreciation for the music we played this semester and for music overall,” said Sarah Thompson ’21, who made her first trip outside the U.S. and described the voyage as one of her fondest memories of being in the ensemble.

“This trip allowed me to grow as a musician, as well as experience the U.K.'s breathtaking sights.”

The ensemble’s annual tour is usually domestic, according to Marcus. He added that this is only the third overseas tour the Wind Ensemble has taken, following on trips to England in 1999 and China in 2015.

Wind Ensemble members at the High School of Dundee in Dundee, Scotland. (Photo by Sheryl Modlin)Cultural exchange is the main purpose, though this year for the first time students could receive COLL 300 credit for the trip. Other large groups in music such as the orchestra and choir are hoping to follow that same model, according to Marcus.

“I think my greatest takeaway from the trip is getting to know the members of the Wind Ensemble away from the traditional setting of the rehearsal room,” said A.J. Joseph ’21. “While the United Kingdom is beautiful and its history rich, what I will remember from that trip is the good people I traveled with, the memories made, the laughs shared and the friendships.”

Logan Chappell, fiscal manager for the music department, and Diane Dudley, who retired as music library assistant just prior to the trip, served as chaperones.

“My goal was to plan some activities that were not just touristy things to do,” Marcus said. Those included speakers at the University of St. Andrews talking about study abroad and post-graduate studies opportunities.

The Wind Ensemble had performed a piece by a British composer at each of its concerts throughout the academic year as it prepared material to perform during the tour.

“The pieces we performed this year were each beautiful in their own right,” said Parker Dean ’21. “However, getting to visit and perform these pieces in some of the most magnificent concert venues in some of the most beautiful cities of all the world has brought to me an understanding of the music previously unattainable in my contemporary settings back in the U.S.”

Wind Ensemble members listen to a tour guide at Alnwick Castle, England, which is where several Harry Potter movies were filmed. (Photo by Richard Marcus)Some moments stuck out as particularly special.

“For me, one of the best memories was our first concert at the High School of Dundee in Scotland,” Marcus said.  “We played for a group of very young students — ages 6 to 10, I would say.”

The teachers at the school requested instrument demonstrations during the Wind Ensemble’s concert.  Marcus asked if there were any songs that all of the students might know.

“They mentioned some Scottish folk songs – one was called Three Craws, which we played.  I didn’t know the song, but all of the kids there knew it.  They sang along as we played.  That was very fun!”