AU’s Concert Band ventures to Chicago

Josh Payne stands in front of sky-reaching towers in Chicago.

By Amanda Eakin and Rob Woodward

Back in early April, Ashland’s Concert Band took 60 students to tour in Chicago in hopes of impressing its audiences as well as attracting attention from possible recruits.

“The concerts were quite successful,” Leonard Salvo, AU’s band director said. “We performed for a wide variety of audiences.”

Before their primary destination, one of the places the band showcased their talents was at

The Nappanee First Brethren Church. Their host was Pastor Tom Schiefer, who was a former director of Ashland’s Marching Band and concert bands. Schiefer is an AU graduate and Brien Bell, the other host, is a former graduate of AU as well.

AU’s band also showed off their skills at Toledo School for the Arts, which is a charter school. The audience primarily consisted of high school-aged students who were interested in pursuing music.

Closer to their main destination, the band also performed at Elmhurst College, which is in Elmhurst, Illinois, a city near Chicago. Though the special guests of the show, AU’s band was one of three groups that provided a performance: Elmhurst Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Elmhurst College Orchestra also performed.

Though the concert band’s trip to Chicago had been planned back in February 2010, not everything ran as smoothly as they would have hoped.

“Due to bad weather in Chicago, the school’s musical was postponed and moved. Moving it to the week we were to perform meant there was not a performance space available when we had planned to play,” Salvo said. In other words, the new time the school’s musical was shifted to conflicted with the band’s scheduled time to perform.

Despite the complication, the trip was a general success, especially considering that AU’s concert band is not used to travelling annually to perform.

“The choir has had a history of touring on a regular basis. It has been a more recent event that the instrumental groups have had the opportunity to tour longer than a day or two,” Salvo said. “Now our large ensembles rotate taking extended tours.”

Notably, Ashland’s Concert Choir ventured overseas to Germany while Ashland’s Jazz Orchestra went to Spain. Salvo’s just happy to get the concert band to such a prominent American city.

“The cost of taking the concert band to Europe is incredibly expensive so we are happy to travel to major cities and present concerts and [attend] workshops along the way,” Salvo said.

Overall, the concert band has travelled to Williamsburg Va., Niagara Falls, N.Y., Nashville, Tenn. and now twice to Chicago. All of these trips do not include the band’s many performances throughout Ohio.

Regardless of where the band goes, Salvo sees such trips as pedagogically valuable as well as beneficial in other ways.

“The tours motivate our students and expose potential AU students to the university ensembles that they can be a part of,” Salvo said. “These tours showcase our groups to music educators who may have been unaware of the fine quality of our music department and the opportunity for their students to participate while at Ashland.”

One of the biggest advantages to having the band go on tour is to draw in musical talent from other areas.

“We often get students who come to AU because they heard our groups,” Salvo said.

Salvo and members of the concert band will be eagerly anticipating their next trip.