As interim came to a close and Oles dispersed for interim break, St. Olaf band and choir members embarked on their annual performance tours. As the choir sang their way south towards Texas, the St. Olaf Band made their way east towards NYC’s Carnegie Hall. How did these tours go, you ask? Well, we interviewed some of these Ole musicians to learn a bit more about their experiences!
Bio 1: Nick Swanson
Major, hometown Vocal Performance, Rochester, New York
What is your instrument/voice part? Flute
Have you been on a tour before with this group before? Yes! This is my fourth tour with the St. Olaf Band! I have been on two other domestic tours, and our international tour to Spain, France and Italy in June of 2014.
What was your favorite memory from tour? Carnegie Hall was a spectacular experience and my favorite performance, but I loved getting to know so many new members and spending time with my best friends.
Describe “life on tour” No personal space. Such love.
What was your favorite place to perform? Why? “Angel of Mercy” by David Maslanka. Dr. Maslanka wrote this piece for us this year for the 125th anniversary of the St. Olaf Band, and it is a beautiful and thought-provoking piece that I love to play and to listen to. Dr. Maslanka worked with the band on this piece during tour and during his residency with us the week after, and it was an incredible experience to play a piece for it’s composer and to hear his feedback and thoughts on our playing! Also, it features some huge bassoon solos performed by the one and only Josh Kosberg, who is amazing (love you, Josh)!
What is the weirdest thing that happened on tour? My first night in New York City was interesting… as was Disco Bus.
Favorite tour tradition? EVERYTHING. There are so many traditions to look forward to every year, from table grace to tour romances to “No Talent Night!”
Estimate of the number of snapchats you sent on this tour. I probably sent about 200 that week…. Maddie Baccam sent about 500 a day…
Cool person you got to know on tour EVERYONE. Seriously, tour is the perfect time to get to know so many new members and spend more time with those people you’ve always wanted to hang out with!
Any additional comments….? I love the St. Olaf Band so much, and Band Tour is my favorite week of every year. I cannot WAIT for next year’s tour!
Bio 2: Leah Suffern
Major, hometown Asian studies and economics, New Haven, CT
What is your instrument/voice part? Alto 2
What was your favorite memory from tour? An incredibly moving and special moment from tour was when we had the opportunity to visit the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. Before entering the main exhibit area one of the museum’s workers urged us to sing a song. Together, amidst a room of other visitors, we sang “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.” The text states how,
despite profound anguish, one can always rely on the understanding of Jesus. The tremendous tenacity, and unfaltering faith in the prevail of justice, that Dr. King and other Civil Rights activists exhibited only further reinforced the song’s message of hope for the future.
Favorite tour tradition? A tradition that is rooted back to former tour manager, BJ, every
morning the new tour manager Jean would sing the “Breakfast Song” to one unsuspecting Bus 1 rider. Equipped with choreography, snapping, and total-bus participation it was such an uplifting way to begin each day!
Bio 3: Maddie Baccam
Major, hometown Vocal Music Education. Des Moines, IA
What is your instrument/voice part? I play the flute in the St. Olaf Band
Have you been on a tour before with this group before? Yes, starting last year with our Southwest tour!
What was your favorite memory from tour? Wandering around Central Park with Donny after it had just snowed–it was beautiful!
Describe “life on tour” Inspiring and tiring, but worth it!! (LOL that’s 6 sorry)
What was your favorite place to perform? Why? It’s probably a no-brainer that Carnegie Hall was my favorite place to perform this tour. Not only were we making fun, meaningful music on a gorgeous stage with such a rich history, but we were also experiencing it with our best friends. The joy and excitement we felt from Dr. Mahr and each other on that stage is something I’ll never forget.
What is the weirdest thing that happened on tour? The foot joint (the very bottom part) of my flute fell off very violently during a concert… I still have no idea how this happened… Luckily it was during a loud part, and my flute was not damaged. My section-mates and I got a good laugh out of that one, though!
Favorite tour tradition? Reading/making pages for the tour book, where everyone’s true personality shines
Estimate of the number of snapchats you sent on this tour. 1,258,268 approximately. Maybe more.
Cool person you got to know on tour Erica Hall, the best boss (band manager) ever!
Bio 4: Nathan Berthelsen
Major, hometown Vocal Music Education, Northfield
What is your instrument/voice part? Voice, Baritone
Have you been on a tour before with this group before? This was my first tour with the St. Olaf Choir
What was your favorite memory from tour? My favorite memory from tour was being able to sing in the Meyerson Symphony Center, and talk to some high schoolers about the concert.
Describe “life on tour” Purposeful, Exhausting, Systematic, Gratifying
What was your favorite place to perform? Why? Though the performance centers were fantastic, I think my favorite place to perform was a small church in Austin TX. The acoustics weren’t the best, but it felt like an intimate concert with the audience. We were able to see the reactions to our music. It was a meaningful concert.
What is the weirdest thing that happened on tour? The weirdest thing that happened on tour was Professor James Bobb ‘rapping’ on the bus ride back to the hotel.
Favorite tour tradition? My favorite tour tradition was the ‘No Talent Night’. It was great to see all of the section and quad skits.
Estimate of the number of snapchats you sent on this tour. I would estimate my snapchat total would be 150.
Cool person you got to know on tour Though I didn’t speak with him personally, I felt that the choir in general got to know Professor James Bobb on this tour, as he conquered each instrument that he encountered.
Bio 5: Donny Sison
Major, hometown Bio & Music Major from Cedar Rapids, Iowa
What is your instrument/voice part? I play clarinet!
Have you been on a tour before with this group before? This is my 4th (and final) tour with the SOB 🙁
What was your favorite memory from tour? Being able to perform at Carnegie Hall was a definite highlight, but one of the memories that stand out is playing for David Maslanka himself (the composer who wrote a piece for us) and watching the wide range of his facial expressions during our performances. We even brought him to tears.
Describe “life on tour” Hectic, amazing, a grand old time
What was your favorite place to perform? Why? Probably Carnegie Hall, mainly because I got to blow bubbles on the same stage where nationally renowned ensembles have performed
What is the weirdest thing that happened on tour? Seeing “Mr. Sison” listed as a teacher in one of the schools
Favorite tour tradition? No Talent Night, an event where bandies of all years show off their random talents!
Estimate of the number of snapchats you sent on this tour. Probably at least 50 (would’ve been more if I didn’t drop my phone whoops)
Cool person you got to know on tour Literally all the new members.
Bio 6: Ben Westermeyer
Major, hometownEconomics, Falcon Heights, MN
What is your instrument/voice part? Bass Trombone
Have you been on a tour before with this group before? I have not, I am a first year
What was your favorite memory from tour? My favorite memory was going to the Museum of Modern Art
Describe “life on tour” Life on Tour: Bus, McDonalds, high school, hotel, repeat!
What was your favorite place to perform? Why? Carnegie Hall was decent I guess
What is the weirdest thing that happened on tour? Disco Bus
Favorite tour tradition? Hunter the stuffed (or taxidermy?) dog that travels with us
Estimate of the number of snapchats you sent on this tour. Less than 200
Cool person you got to know on tour Robin Wheelus