The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 26, 2014

Murray column: Band trip a cultural experience

MANKATO — For most students in the Mankato West High School bands, orchestra and choirs, the audiences listening in during concerts are usually stocked with friendly and familiar faces.

Moms, dads, siblings. You know, the usual suspects.

But a few weeks ago they all played to audiences slightly less familiar.

About 120 of the west side’s most musical kids, passports in hand, boarded planes for a trip to Germany and Austria — a part of the planet where some of the greatest music the world has ever known was written. It was the semi-annual band trip the Mankato West High School music department organizes.

According to West Band Director Brady Krusemark, the trip didn’t disappoint.

The band performed pieces by Strauss and Mozart for audiences that knew exactly what Strauss and Mozart are supposed to sound like.

Pressure?

“Yes and no,” Krusemark said. “Yes because you’re performing for an audience that’s not typical for us, not made up of moms and dads. But no, in that the students worked really hard. It was different for us. We only had 10 rehearsals prior to the trip, and early on we were only meeting twice a week. The last two weeks were pretty intense.”

And the crowds were pleased.

“Seeing audiences react to those pieces that originated there was really special,” Krusemark said. “At the town square in Innsbruck playing Strauss, people started clapping along. And they didn’t clap along to anything else.”

My daughter was part of that trip. She plays clarinet, and has spent the last year trying to perfect a piece of music written by Mozart. She loves music. I mean she really, really loves music. (I've got the iTunes bill to prove it.) She was excited to have the chance to see where this Mozart fellow came from.

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