The Grace University Band enjoyed a two-week May concert tour in China. More than 20 students and community musicians performed for more than 15,000 people during 11 concerts in four southern cities.
The main component of the trip is creating personal relationships with the Chinese people. During previous trips in 2007 and in 2010, strong relationships were built and the team has seen the impact of continuing these friendships. The Chinese people are very interested in talking with musicians at great length. Taiyuan, Pingyao, Changzhi, and Yuci do not attract tourists or business travelers, so Grace musicians are some of the few Americans people living there may ever encounter.
Jeff James, the band’s director, said, “Besides performing on stage, our greatest thrill is talking with people before and after concerts. They were curious about Americans and so excited to talk with us. We made a point of allowing time for this.”
Musical repertoire included a difficult and humorous snare drum solo performed by Allie Knouse and Julie Gonzales performed a saxophone solo of Mozart ‘s Rondo. The band performed some music familiar to the Chinese, including Clarinet Polka, and a set of movie music from Captain America, Mission Impossible, and Pirates of the Caribbean, which included humorous costumed skits designed by Rachel Pulate and Natalie Tompkins.
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.
Grace University, located in Omaha, Neb., is a regionally accredited, private Christian university with more than 40 diverse undergraduate, graduate and adult degree completion programs including education, business, psychology, music, nursing and Christian ministries. The university’s mission is to develop servant leaders for the home, the church and the world through excellence in biblically integrated education.