Meagan DeGraaf-Staff Writer
The audience stood up and clapped. Director Dr. Bradley Miedema and the band smiled back. Instruments glimmered back into the crowd under the spotlights.
And that concluded another successful concert on the road for the Dordt College concert band and chamber orchestra.
After any performance that took place during tour, a local Dordt graduate, principal or church leader would offer up a prayer to end the evening. Then, the students would run to a crowded room where their instrument cases awaited packing, then dart to other rooms so they could change out of those restricting tuxedos and dresses.
During the tour, one flutist commented, “It’ll be nice not to live out of a suitcase when we get back,” while changing back into everyday clothes and zipping up her bag.
This is the norm for Dordt students on tour: they arrive in a city after a long bus ride, unpack two buses and a trailer of luggage and instruments, sound-check the two groups, eat something with the kind hosts in that city, change into concert dress and get up on stage. Then they change again and go out to meet “host parents” who give them a place to sleep and a shower to wash off the smell of buses filled with college boys.
“You look like a pack mule,” said a host parent to one of her students when dropping her off at a church in New Jersey after a two-night stay and a free afternoon in New York City.
This year’s tour to the northeast followed a pattern of sleeping different locations nearly every night, leaving students excited to travel with their peers and simultaneously exhausted at the thought of doing so. It’s not easy to carry tubas and chimes into and out of churches and schools every day.
Many say the experience is completely worth the exhaustion. There is no price for seeing new parts of the country and meeting new people, whether they are Dordt students in different classes or people who give up their homes and free time to host the musicians.
These hosts often inspired what the musicians affectionately call “host family story time,” a period of time set aside on the long bus rides to new states where students can share interesting stories from the nights spent at the homes of strangers.
Sometimes stories would consist of cute chats with host parents, while others featured crazy drivers, a host parent asking students to jog with him in downtown D.C. to prepare for his marathon that weekend, a few host parents giving gifts and food in abundance, some who owned a Dutch bakery and wanted to know how their donuts compared to those at Casey’s and even a couple funny stories about sleep-talkers.
These story times, along with other forced interaction provided by “get-to-know-you” games and free time for students to hang out and play Rook, helped students get to know one another and form new relationships with fellow musicians.
This year, the band and orchestra played in Illinois, Michigan, Ontario, New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Ohio and Wisconsin, passing through other states on the way there and back.
If you would like to hear the repertoire performed by these ensembles over tour, the music department is hosting a homecoming concert on Friday night at 7 p.m. in the BJ Haan as a conclusion of the tour.