Grand Symphonic Winds go to China

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
April 8, 2010
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St. Paul, Minn. — In China, music is an integral part of society. Just think of the 1980 documentary "From Mao to Mozart" and the eagerness with which Chinese lapped up Western classical music.

This energy continues three decades later with an ever increasing interest in music for bands. So this year Shanghai will be the host of the International Band Festival timed to take place just before the 2010 World Expo, April 25-May 4.

Representing our region is the civic wind ensemble Grand Symphonic Winds led by St. Thomas Director of Bands, Dr. Matthew J. George.

George says he was asked to bring his band to China at a time when he was there conducting and giving clinics. He's thrilled that his group will have the opportunity to mingle with bands from around the world and share in the universal language of wind music.

In addition to the Festival, the group is invited to give a concert at Beijing's new National Centre for the Performing Arts - locally known as "The Egg" because of its oval shape. GSW is the first foreign band to perform at this venue.

Dr. George leads GSW in an international concert of music by Holst and Sousa as well as a work the University of St. Thomas commissioned last year filled with Peking Opera percussion sounds - "Ambush!" by Chinese composer Chin Qian.

Though the ensemble is an auditioned group and plays at a high level, George says they still have a lot of fun making music.

Stay tuned in mid-May when I'll bring you a follow-up on the China trip from the musicians of GSW.

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