Some 378 student musicians, advisors and parents in Iowa will be taking a July tour through Europe. Of those, seven are from Centerville.
Student musicians from Centerville High School who will be touring Europe with the Iowa Ambassadors of Music from July 3-18 are Katie Sharp, Jennie Foglesong, Matthew Baughman, Alyssa Bridges, Erissa McGill, Tabitha Long and Damon Hoffman.
The 2014 tour is a 20-day event that includes four days of rehearsal in Grinnell with a farewell concert at Grinnell College on July 2 at 7 p.m. The ambassadors then have a 16-day concert tour covering England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy and Liechtenstein. The students will performance in each country except Liechtenstein.
Iowa Ambassadors of Music tours Europe on alternative years. To be considered for membership in IAM, students must be recommended by their school music teachers as having superior music skills and possessing high character. After this initial recommendation, the students are contacted about the opportunity to participate in the tour. This year, the students perform in either the 200-member band or the 150-member choir on the tour. The Centerville High School members were recommended by CHS Band Director Jim DePrizio.
Being a member of the Iowa Ambassadors of Music tour means that through performance, the participles participate in a sharing of cultures. Most tourists visit and take from their experiences—the Iowa Ambassadors of Music also give.
One of the highlights from past tours has been when the students realize the USA’s national march, the “Stars and Stripes Forever,” by John Phillip Sousa, is a well-known and popular march in Europe. The choir’s opportunity to perform its selections in settings with over a thousand-year heritage give the students a chance to add a new page in the cultural venue of Europe.
Dr. Morgan Jones, professor emeritus from the University of Iowa, conducts the Iowa Ambassadors of Music Band, and Peter Westphalen, of Cedar Rapids Washington High School, conducts the choir. Fort Iowa Music teachers/musicians will assist in the musical preparation of the ensembles. The music teachers instruct the students during the rehearsals in Grinnell, perform in the ensembles next to the students and serve as advisors on the tour.
The 2014 European tour is IAM’s fourteenth trip. Since the group was established in 1988, over 5,000 student musicians have delighted European audiences with their performances as Iowa Ambassadors of Music.