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Concert will celebrate St. Olaf Band’s return from Australia and New Zealand

Members of the St. Olaf Band pause for a photo in front of the Sydney Opera House during their recent tour to Australia and New Zealand.

The St. Olaf Band’s international tour to Australia and New Zealand will culminate with “A Coming Home Concert from the Land Down Under” on February 11.

The concert, which begins at 3:30 p.m. in St. Olaf’s Skoglund Center Auditorium, is free and open to the public. It will be streamed and archived online.

From January 15 to 30, the 95-member St. Olaf Band traveled throughout New Zealand and Australia. They performed in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand, and in Melbourne, Canberra, and Sydney, Australia. The members also all took one of two Interim courses focused on flourishing within one’s environment from either Associate Professor of Chemistry Paul Jackson ’92 or Associate Professor of Psychology Donna McMillan.

The word “flourish” inspired every aspect of the St. Olaf Band’s New Zealand and Australia Tour. For conductor Timothy Mahr ’78, it served as both artistic inspiration and as a philosophy for living in, and enjoying, the world.

Flourishes filled the tour’s music, bringing an extra strand of beauty to every concert. Among the American pieces on the band’s program were Sound the Bells by John Williams, Nathan Duaghtrey’s Limerick Daydreams, and Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront by Leonard Bernstein. Works by Australian composers included Twist by Jodie Blackshaw and Australian Up-Country Tune by Percy Grainger.

The band also performed two of Mahr’s own works, The Soaring Hawk and Flourish. Mahr, who has conducted the band since 1994, is a highly sought-after guest conductor and award-winning composer. Two St. Olaf Band members are featured soloists: Sean Miller ’18 on the saxophone and Sarah Younger ’18 on percussion. They are both performing a work by David Maslanka, a composer awarded an honorary degree from St. Olaf in 2016; he recently passed away in August 2017.

Members of the St. Olaf Band prepare to perform at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music during their recent tour to Australia and New Zealand.

During performances, the St. Olaf Band frequently joined forces with local ensembles, like the West City Youth Concert Band in Auckland, the Canberra Wind Symphony, and the Royal Australian Navy Band in Melbourne.

Despite a jam-packed performance and study schedule, band members took every opportunity to see the sights. They stopped by Hobbiton while in Middle Earth … errr, New Zealand. They also visited the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne and the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve outside Canberra as part of their class on ethics and the environment.

The Australia and New Zealand Tour is not the first time that the St. Olaf Band has toured abroad. Once every four years the band embarks on an international adventure: past locations include Mexico, Japan, Europe, and the United Kingdom. In honor of St. Olaf’s Norwegian heritage, the band has visited Norway six times.

Get a glimpse of Oles finishing up their tour in Australia: