FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Students involved with the band program at Purdue University Fort Wayne are set to embark this week on an international journey through Europe. The Symphonic Wind Ensemble will depart from Chicago on Wednesday, May 17th and return on Wednesday, May 31st.

Dan Tembras, Director of Instrumental Studies for the university, has made it a priority to take a tour biannually. The band’s first trip was to Carnegie Hall in New York in 2015. The band then visited Austria, the Czech Republic, and Germany back in 2017. However, the band’s 2019 tour to Asia was never taken, due to COVID-19. After a few years off during the pandemic, the music department is proud to have this opportunity return for the students this year.

The trip this year features a tour through France, Switzerland, and Italy, plus a stop in Portugal as a layover before returning to the United States. The students will have ample opportunities for guided and unguided sightseeing. The tour features six performances by the students. These concerts will be held in Paris, France; Geneva, Switzerland; Milan, Italy; Florence, Italy; Corciano, Italy; and Rome, Italy. The band will also collaborate with local bands and orchestras on some of these concerts. Some highlights of the sightseeing portion of the trip include the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre Museum, the St. Pierre Cathedral, the Milan Cathedral, the Roman Forum, and a visit to the Vatican City.

The group has been rehearsing at the PFW Rhinehart Music Center to get ready for the tour. They also recently performed the music they will be performing on the tour at a concert in April. They will be playing a variety of music, including modern, jazz, and classical genres.

We talked to three band members who will be embarking on the tour. Ethan Hacker is excited to be going out of the country for the first time and is glad to share the experience with his friends in the band. Katherine Marx is excited for the opportunity to perform in historic European venues and learn more about the music history of Europe in the process. Rachel Corwin is most looking forward to immersing herself in the culture, trying new things, trying new food, and performing with friends. They all were thankful for the financial support offered by the school administration, donors, and the student wind band council, who raised money to cover the bus fare to Chicago. They all have made the tour more affordable for the band members.

The students speak very highly of the band program at Purdue Fort Wayne. Ethan Hacker says the bands are special because of the people and the instruction. Dr. Tembras does a great job leading the group and puts a lot of accountability on the students. This sets the standard and gives the students control of the classroom, which in turn leads to a more rewarding result in the end. Katherine Marx loves playing in a large ensemble where the commitment level is so high and also appreciates the quality of instruction from Dr. Tembras. He pushes the students to play their best, but also picks excellent music that challenges everyone by bringing out the band’s strengths and strengthening the band’s weaknesses. Rachel Corwin says the band program is special because it is such a supportive community. The faculty is amazing and students and peers are supportive of each other.

Dr. Tembras himself has this to say about the band program: “The most special part of this program is the students. Through their commitment to excellence and ownership of the process, we are able to perform the most advanced literature at a high level while having the opportunities to collaborate with world renown artists. I am incredibly proud of them and grateful for our administrative support to be able to engage in international programs at a fraction of the cost to our members. No public or private university that I know of provides this much support. We have something so very special here.”

If you would like to support the performing ensembles at Purdue Fort Wayne, visit this link.