Music Tour to the USA
May 04, 2017 at 3:24 PM
With thanks to Head of Music, Mr Ross Gerritsen
The April tour to the USA was a chance for our aspiring young musicians, both instrumental and vocal, to immerse themselves in a world of musical opportunities. From the iconic sounds of New Orleans Jazz, to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the students watched, listened and joined in, becoming inspired to refine their own craft . Alongside performance and workshop opportunities, each day was jam-packed with sight-seeing from the east to west coasts of the USA.
Chapter 1 – New Orleans
The birth of ragtime, blues and Dixieland at the end of the 19th century saw the emergence of a style of music that would change the path of music worldwide. We owe much to New Orleans for its contribution to the story of Jazz and eventually Rock n’ Roll, so it was fitting that the 2017 Music Tour, comprising of a 21 piece Jazz Band and 6 singers, began its adventure in NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana).
New Orleans is a city like no other. It’s rich, deep and difficult past has created a colourful city that exudes character and life. Its musical vibrancy is second to none; something we fully experienced as we immersed ourselves in the street vibe of traditional New Orleans Brass Bands along Bourbon Street.
A visit to Mardi Gras World provided a short glimpse behind the scenes of the biggest party in America and was the setting for our first performance of the tour, perched on the banks of the mighty Mississippi.
Tourist attraction highlight: Swamp Tour in the heart of Louisiana’s swamp country.
Musical highlight: Attending a concert at Preservation Hall, one of New Orleans’s oldest Jazz venues.
Educational highlight: Workshop at Loyola University with 45-year jazz bass veteran, Ed Wise.
Performance: Mardi Gras World.
Best Story: The Swamp Tour guide hand feeding marshmallows to wild alligators!
Chapter 2 – San Francisco
San Francisco’s modern, international city was a stark contrast to New Orleans. Brimming with an array of tourist hot-spots, the entire tour party had a fabulous time here. Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 33, Pier 39, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and a monumental CBD power cut provided plenty of stories!
Tourist attraction highlight: Walking the Golden Gate Bridge as a tour group and the fantastic view of Alcatraz, where we’d been just hours earlier.
Performances: California Academy of Sciences and The Sequoias.
Education highlight: Workshop at Stanford University with Fred Berry, the Conductor of the Stanford Jazz Orchestra.
Best Story: Being caught in the middle of a power cut which blacked out a quarter of Downtown San Francisco and having to perform a concert in the dark!
Chapter 3 – Los Angeles
Los Angeles brought for many of us the highlight of the tour: The Los Angeles Philharmonia performing Dvorak’s 9th Symphony, one of the most loved and well know pieces in the orchestral repertoire. Our fabulous seats, right above the orchestra, gave us an intimate musical experience that many had never experienced. Regarded as one of the top orchestras in the world, the chance for our students to hear them live was a truly authentic and memorable aspect of the tour.
There were many other parts of the ‘Los Angeles Chapter’ that will miss out on being listed in the highlights section below, yet deserve an honourable mention! A full day of fun at 6 Flags; dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp; a visit to Universal City; and dinner and a music theatre show at the famous Catalina Jazz Club.
Tourist attraction highlight: Sunset Studios where the Beatles, Prince, Metallica and Led Zeppelin recorded many of their albums.
Education Highlight: Workshop at the University of Southern California with Drum Legend, Peter Erskine (He played drums on all the Austin Powers movies).
Musical Highlight: The Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Performance: Hollywood Boulevard.
Best Story: The ‘interesting’ locals on Hollywood Boulevard who were determined to teach us to rap – or sell us their demo CD’s. Security was called…!
A tour with the quality of musical (and non-musical) experiences we had would not have been possible without the work done by the team at Tour Time to secure truly world class experiences. Our thanks to our US based TourTime guide, Joe, our drivers Charles and Dayvid and to Saint Kentigern staff, Mr Ross Gerritsen, Mr Paul Norman, Mr Lachlan Craig and Mrs Siobhan Gerritsen for their dedication to making the tour an unforgettable one for our students.
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