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Augustana College's symphonic band set to perform on tour in Japan

After the pandemic cancelled the previously scheduled tour, Augie's symphonic band is soon getting the chance of a lifetime to perform overseas

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — After the pandemic forced Augustana band students to pack up their instruments and cancel a tour to Japan, that once-in-a-lifetime chance is coming to fruition this spring.

The symphonic band at Augustana College is set to travel to Japan for a tour in March and April of 2023. Under the direction of Dr. James Lambrecht, who's been with the college for over 30 years, this is the second time since 2014 that the group will travel to Japan.

"The orchestra and symphonic band have been traveling since the 1880s, 1882 was the very first tour we took by wagon, can you imagine? So now we fly and take coaches and trucks," Lambrecht said. "It's something that's completely different. But the Japanese culture is very welcoming. And their band culture is very excellent, as well."

According to a Monday, Feb. 20 press release from the school, the 50-member ensemble will perform pieces by Yasuhide Ito, Philip Sparke, Julie Giroux, David Maslanka, Frank Ticheli and John Philip Sousa. 

"So, I'm really excited," Senior ensemble member Paige Lundborg said. "I'm a little bit nervous, just because I know it'll be, different culture, a different scene."

The tour was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and Dr. Lambrecht said there were a lot of tears shed back then.

"It was very traumatic and very difficult for the students," Lambrecht said.

Lundborg said she's sad this is her last year performing with the ensemble.

"We did all this effort. And then we waited for a long time. Like, maybe we get to go, maybe we get to go and then we didn't which like makes sense," Lundborg said. "But I think that's sort of helped with the excitement is that we're so close. We're almost there."

The Augie and band will be playing a join concert with a local school on march 25, a performance at the Sagamihara Band Festival on March 28 and a concert in Nagoya on April 2.

After the tour, Dr. Lambrecht said they're hoping to play around the Midwest in 2024.

"It's going to be a life-changing event for our students because they've never experienced a culture like this," Lambrecht said.

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