California Dreamin’ Takes Youth Wind Ensemble’s Talented Young Musicians on Tour to Austria!
It’s a dream come true for Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble’s (PSYWE) outstanding, young student musicians, who are about to see their 10th anniversary season culminate in a once-in-a-lifetime, nine-day international tour. Regarded as one of the premier youth wind symphonies in the nation, PSYWE—an 81-piece band made up of woodwind, brass and percussion students in grades 8-12, led by Music Director Gregory X. Whitmore—takes flight July 3-12, along with Symphony staff and students’ family members, with stops in Austria’s “City of Music,” Vienna, and Mozart’s birthplace, Salzburg, for participation (by special invitation) in the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival.
“This feels amazing!” exclaims Maestro Whitmore. “The tour is the culmination of a two-year process of planning, discussions and meetings. I’m so excited for the students to have the opportunity to perform and experience Salzburg and Vienna. My hopes and dreams are that the students will not only have the life-changing opportunity to play in the home of classical music, but will also be able to immerse themselves in the cultural experiences. If the students come back changed for the better, having broadened their horizons—we have succeeded!"
The tour will be the first in PSYWE’s decade-long history, and has been part of a larger celebration of the ensemble’s 10-year anniversary season (2016-17). One goal of the tour is for PSYWE to play music in acclaimed European concert halls with passion and deep collaboration with one another—in alignment with the theme of the anniversary season, “Collaborations & Celebration.” Students will be transformed through performances in the famous Musikverein, the MuTh and the Vienna Konzerthaus. PSYWE’s tour programming will include highlights from each of the concerts that took place over the past season, plus several compulsory works by Viennese composers, as required by the Festival.
“The past season has prepared PSYWE for the tour in many ways,” says Whitmore. “First, we had a season to come together as an ensemble, making the opportunity to travel and perform abroad that much more substantial. PSYWE was selected for this honor based upon the artistic caliber of the ensemble. As one of only a few youth wind ensembles associated with a major symphony orchestra, PSYWE is uniquely positioned, which has allowed it to develop artistically and take advantage of amazing performance opportunities."
The Festival takes place in Vienna, which apart from being regarded as the “City of Music” because of its musical legacy, is also said to be “The City of Dreams,” because it was home to Sigmund Freud. Goals include meeting and interacting with students from across cultures, and to grow and bond as a PSYWE family. Many different types of youth ensembles from all over the world will be participating in the festival, including a wind ensemble from Japan, an orchestra from Spain, a saxophone choir from Italy, a marching band from Australia, a women’s choir from Oregon and many others. PSYWE will be able to see, meet and cheer on the many different ensembles that approach their art with the same passion and enthusiasm as they do.
A final goal of the tour is for the students to immerse themselves in all of the historical and cultural opportunities that abound. From Dusseldorf to Munich to Salzburg, where the students enjoy a full day in this city of visual drama—framed by mountains, crowned by the Hohensalzburg Fortress and divided by the Salzach River. Salzburg has been an endless source of inspiration to those who created its mighty Baroque churches and palatial Residenz, and to its famous son, Mozart. The students will see such sights as Salzburg Cathedral, St. Peter’s Abbey and the Getreidegasse. Highlights include a visit to Mozart’s birthplace.
PSYWE then heads to Vienna, Austria’s capital and biggest city, which boasts numerous notable musicians who were born there, including: Schubert, Strauss I and II, Schoenberg, Fritz Kreisler, Berg and Webern, among them. Many other famous musicians flocked from other parts of Austria and Germany to Vienna, such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, von Suppe, Bruckner, Brahms, Mahler and others. Here the students have their first chance to rehearse and perform as part of the Band and Orchestra Competition in the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Golden Hall of the Musikverein and the MuTh Concert Hall, the newest concert venue in Vienna and home to the Vienna Boys’ Choir. PSYWE will also rehearse with members of the Festival’s faculty at the University of Music and enjoy a visit to the ‘Haus der Musik’ (House of Music).
Students will also have the opportunity to soak in the culture and enjoy such sights as the Parliament, City Hall, the Cathedral and the Vienna Central Cemetery to see the tombs and memorials of famous composers Beethoven, Mozart, the Strauss family and Brahms. On their own, they may choose to also see the Hofburg Palace, the Museums Quartier and the Spanish Riding School. The Gala Winners’ Concert and Awards Ceremony takes place at the Konzerthaus, where PSYWE may perform again at the adjudicators’ discretion. Afterwards, there will be a farewell dinner reception at the Vienna City Hall hosted by the Lord Mayor of Vienna.