If you’re a parent going away for April vacation, packing up the entire family might seem like a big headache. Imagine if you were going half-way across the world with 22 musicians and their instruments?
The Medfield High School Jazz Band is getting ready for its big trip to China, and Music Director Doug Olsen takes one look at his to-do list and simply says, “It’s overwhelming. We’ve never taken a music trip of this magnitude.”
Besides the usual luggage and carry-on bags, the China packing list includes 23 Passports and Visas, binders of sheet music for performances in Bengbu, Beijing and Shanghai, plus an array of instruments of all shapes, sizes (and sounds), including trumpets, trombones, saxophones, cymbals, vibes and a guitar, as well as music stands. To Olsen’s relief, a piano, drums, and additional instruments will be provided in China for the band.
Ten years ago, the Roosevelt High School Jazz Band out of Seattle, made a similar trip to China and had to ship its largest instruments overseas, including piano and upright bass, only to find them quarantined for four days. Olsen has been talking to other band directors who have made the journey to China to gain a better idea how to prepare for the trip and what to expect.
“With all of our stuff, I have a feeling we’ll make quite a scene when we collect our baggage in China,” said Olsen, who’s been spending a lot of his time Skyping with his counterparts on the other side of the world, fielding calls from parents with a long list of questions, and with Superintendent Bob Maguire and EF Tours to figure out logistics, including buses between cities, dining options, and sightseeing ideas for the limited free time the band will have.
But even before leaving its beloved USA, the Jazz Band has had the chance to immerse itself in Asian-inspired jazz music in practice sessions and performances with modern jazz composer/conductor Alan Chan, and renowned Chinese composer and erhu musician Yang Ying, who has created a piece for the Jazz Band to perform at the high-profile Chinese Language Conference in Boston on Sunday, April 7, as well as on tour in China. (You can learn about Ying and the commissioned Medfield piece on her Website.) Chan will also be meeting up with the Jazz Band in Shanghai to conduct a performance there.
Despite the enormous task of preparing for the Jazz Band’s inaugural overseas music trip, there’s one thing Olsen doesn’t have to worry about: paying the bills. Thanks to a successful fundraising campaign by the Medfield Music Association, Jazz Band families and band members, $25,000 was raised for financial aid, instrument and performance expenses, and other music-tour costs. Jazz Band families are paying their own share of the trip expenses too.
Once spending money is in hand, the bus is fully loaded with luggage and instruments, and chaperones are on board directing the show, the Medfield High School Jazz Band will be set for the trip of a lifetime.
And while parents may be forced to wave their sons and daughters goodbye from the Medfield High School parking lot in the early morning hours of April 12, they’ll be able to follow the trip through Doug Olsen’s Twitter feeds (MusicMedfield). The Medfield community is invited to follow along too.
On April 26, just five days after the band returns from China, Jazz Night attendees will not only have the chance to hear great music, but they’ll also hear first-hand about the China trip from the new International Medfield High School Jazz Band! For event information, click here.
Want to see what’s on the Jazz Band packing list? Take a look:
21 music stands
22 binders of sheet music
1 conga drum
1 vibraphone set with special case
10 drum sticks
1 electric bass
1 repair kit
45 “China Tour” t-shirts (check out the design)
23 passports & VISAs
23 sets of luggage
23 carry-on bags
23 packages of assorted gifts for host families and school partners, including Hershey Chocolate, a huge hit!