WELCOME WARTBURG COLLEGE WIND ENSEMBLE!
Welcome Wartburg College Wind Ensemble! Other than the billboard advertising our concert in Shanghai, this was one of the first signs I saw upon entering the He Luting Concert Hall. Written in both Chinese and English, we were merging our culture with theirs, and I was thrilled that our band had the opportunity to share our music with the people of Shanghai.
|Preparing for rehearsal and the sign welcoming the Wartburg College Wind Ensemble.|
From left to right: David Wedeking, Adam Kucera, and Anthony Lynn jumping in front of a billboard at He Luting Concert Hall.
Opened in 2003, this concert hall was designed in classic European style due to the golden color and rectangular shape, and has seating for approximately 750 people. Conveniently located inside the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, which is home to many university students, there have been hundreds of concerts that have hosted a variety of groups just within the past decade. This site has been home for various master classes, the International Piano Festival, and Shanghai International Percussion Week, just to name a few.
In terms of space, the hall takes up 14,000 square meters (or approximately 4,000 square feet). Like many of the halls that can be seen in Europe, this concert hall has a very natural, live sound that is produced when ensembles perform. During rehearsal, we found out very quickly that we had to “crisp” up our sound and pay closer attention to dynamics in order to ensure that our audience would not be overwhelmed with the great amount of sound being produced. Though the seats are covered and numbered in red, this hall is very golden in color. It is said that this performance hall can be compared to the Golden Hall of Vienna due to the architecture, and now it has been appropriately been labeled as the “Golden Hall” of China. The stage is located on the first floor, which has many dressing rooms, a restroom, and office buildings on each floor of this 14 meter-tall building. While sitting on the stage, looking up, one can see that the balcony has seating on three sides, and to stage left is a sound room that adjusts the lights on stage and in the audience. On the opposite side, there is an entry way that leads you to the dressing rooms. This hall is cherished due to the architectural and cultural enrichment it brings to China, as many nationally and privately owned office buildings and skyscrapers have been built just within the past twenty years.
When entering the stage for rehearsal, the sign made for our group immediately made me feel welcome and at home. I loved the gold and red colors that intertwined with each other when looking at the walls and seating area. I was already imagining a crowd full of strangers I had never seen before, waiting to hear and enjoy the music we had to offer. People of all ages, young and old, who came simply to be impressed by an American college band who was quite excited but nervous to play for them. I found myself hoping that sharing our music would at least bring a smile to someone’s face, or encourage a child to learn an instrument and learn how to play music. At the very least, appreciate the music we so desperately wanted them to enjoy.
The audience was already cheering and clapping for us when we first entered the stage. While tuning, I could hear tiny whispers coming from the seats, but it was to dark to match the voices to faces. I couldn’t understand what they were saying, yet I believe they were excited to hear us perform. After we played the Chinese National Anthem of the People’s Republic of China, the lights were brought up and I could see people within the first ten rows. It wasn’t until intermission that I would discover that were even more people seated in the balcony! After each piece, some would just clap in admiration, while others cheered and clapped with joy. I smiled and no longer felt nervous. The crowd was focused solely on watching us put on a show, and we were determined to give them a wonderful concert. With all the concerts we’ve had in China, I’ve noticed that the audience cheers even more for different sections of the band throughout our show, and this performance was no different. The trumpets, flutes, clarinets, trombones, and Dr. Wachmann all received much clapping and cheers, and it felt good to know that the audience was enjoying our music.
At the end of the concert, our courier, Anthony, presented Dr. Hancock with a special gift by having the audience sing “Happy Birthday” in Chinese since his birthday on May 7th. He looked so surprised! Clara Davidson conducted “Nearer My God to Thee” and “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”, and I couldn’t help but smile at the success of our last concert in China.
The Wartburg College Wind Ensemble after their concert.
When we touched down in Beijing, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people, cars, and tall buildings. I mean, the city of Shanghai has 23 million people, which is almost eight times the population of the state of Iowa! Now, I am not surprised when I meet new faces and wish there was more time to interact with the people here. Such friendly and genuine people; they have taught me to embrace the world around me and not be hesitant in trying new things. As our courier, Anthony, told us, life is a journey, and as long as you are happy, that is the only thing that truly matters. It is bittersweet to leave what has become our home for the past week, but what a journey it has been so far. What a blessing that I was able to experience this culture and meet new people with my band family. We are making memories that will last for the rest of our lives.