St. Olaf Band kicks off their Fall 2021 tour at St. Paul Central High School in St. Paul, Minn. on Oct. 16. They are the first ensemble to tour since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. The band will travel around the Midwest before returning to St. Olaf for their home concert.
Professor of Music and Conductor of the St. Olaf Band Timothy Mahr ’78 specifically designed the program around central ideas surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our theme this year is ‘with reverence and hope’,” Mahr said. The concert program includes a balance of reflective and hopeful pieces.
Mahr hopes the band and audience will “be respectful and incredibly, deeply moved as we consider those who have lost their lives” but notes that the concert will also include “hopeful pieces.”
The band will open the concert with “A Fanfare for a New Era” composed by Jack Stamp. Mahr believes that this piece is an excellent concert opener but more importantly, symbolizes our current state of time. “We have an opportunity to do better here. This is sort of a reset going on globally. Can we think about the important issues and not just go back to normal but go back to something better?” Mahr said.
The tour will feature the premiere performance “Kaalachakra, The Wheel of Time” composed by Aryaman Joshi ’23. Joshi composed the piece through the Collaborate Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) program this past summer. The piece was inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically the wave that hit India.
Oboist and English horn player Lily Mitzel ’24 looks forward most to playing “Kaalacharka, the Wheel of Time.” “It draws on Indian style music which is something I’ve never really had the experience to play before,” Mitzel said.
Band manager and saxophonist Katie Howard ’22 also looks most forward to playing “Kaalacharka, the Wheel of Time” as well as “A Hymn for the Lost and the Living” by Erik Ewazen. “It is very raw, very emotional,” she said. “There is a sense of uplifting throughout it.”
In addition to the performances, St. Olaf Band members look forward to spending quality time with each other. This will be Mitzel’s first tour and she hopes that she can strengthen her relationships within the band. “I think we will really grow as a community,” she said, “the long bus rides with people will definitely have me forming some closer friendships.”
Howard agrees and points to the benefits of tour occurring earlier in the academic year than usual. “There’s something unique about a fall tour because you get to mesh with people. You come in as a group of strangers, especially if you are a new member, especially if you are a first year and you suddenly get to build all these connections,” Howard said.
During Howard’s first year, St. Olaf Band also toured during the fall instead of interim break. “It’s kind of like a little tribute. You’re kind of coming full circle,” she said. Additionally, she is excited to tour for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. “Music making again and having a live audience is so huge and so special.”
The concert will also feature student conductors Madeline Kessler ’22 and Eric Holdhusen ’22, as well as soloists Christopher Schulte ’22 and Nathan Lyle ’22. The tour will also feature the premier of “Planet B” by Catherine Likuta.
All members of St. Olaf Band are required to be fully vaccinated and they will wear masks during their performances to ensure COVID-19 safety regulations.
St. Olaf Band concludes their tour with a performance in Skoglund on Oct. 24 at 3:30 p.m. The full list of tour dates and ticket information is available on the St. Olaf website.