The Grace University Band is made up of twenty-four students and community musicians.
Besides performing, the other main component of the trip was creating personal relationships with the Chinese people. During previous trips in 2007, 2010 and 2013, strong relationships were built and the team has seen the impact of continuing these friendships. In the 2016 tour we developed those relationships and made a lot of new friends as well.
The band performed for 25,200 people during 14 concerts in 5 cities. Venues included:
• seven schools in Taiyuan, Pingyao, Changzhi, Taigu, and Yuci
• Taiyuan University of Technology
• the annual Sports Meet at Taiyuan University of Technology
• a Taiyuan University of Technology Band collaboration
• a Ruby Orchestra (traditional Chinese instruments) collaboration
• a Longcheag Symphony (an orchestra in Taiyuan) collaboration
• two performances at a church in Taiyuan
Besides band music, repertoire included a string quintet, a clarinet quartet, a percussion septet, a piano quartet (8 hands on one piano!), a vocal ensemble, and solos performed by Ali Boyd (soprano), Rob Benson (marimba), Michaela Harwood (piano) and Jana James (violin/dance). The soloists were particularly well-received and met with “Rockstarish” adulation after concerts, including a lot of autograph-signing and picture-taking.
In addition to classical music, the band performed movie music familiar to the Chinese, including Mission Impossible, and Star Wars. The biggest hit of all was Josh Pace running around in the audience in full costume as the band played Superman.
Jeff James, the band’s director, said, “Besides performing on stage, our greatest thrill is talking with people on many occasions, including before and after concerts. They were so excited to talk with us. We made a point of allowing time for this.” Many new friends accompanied us on the bus to concerts and to the Taiyuan church on Sunday.
The band did some sight-seeing as well, including seeing the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Terra Cotta Warriors. “Performing is our main order of business, but we want our students to learn about the culture of China as well,” James said.
I really enjoyed everything about the tour. God has opened my eyes to see a new perspective of what is going on on this side of the world. The people were fun and friendly, and our concerts had a wonderful impact on the school students. –Ali Boyd, voice and percussion, senior
I felt like a celebrity in China! Everyone we played for was so grateful for our performance, and it was a blast just to experience their gratitude. –Joshua Pace, piano and percussion, senior
I enjoyed the trip very much. Because of health issues this last year, I knew God wanted me on the trip because he cleared things up so I could go. I had my last surgery 6 weeks before we left and was able to not have any issues related to that with lifting and pulling a 50 lb. suitcase for the 2 weeks. Twice in the trip I shared with a Chinese person about God helping me deal with breast cancer. –Mary Fohner, clarinet, community member