The 2022 Wind Symphony ensemble tour began on Wednesday, April 6, and ended on Saturday, April 9. Tour consisted of three full days of community building and five performances at different venues including several schools in Illinois and an invited appearance at the College Band Directors National Association North Central Regional Conference at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. From the first concert Wednesday night to the final performance Saturday afternoon, the ISU Wind Symphony stood together and held their reputation high for everyone to see. This tour was an opportunity to exhibit all the talent and hard work that Illinois State University’s band program encompasses.  

The following was my experience as a junior music education major at Illinois State University. 

What was it like? 

Tour began long before the date of our official leave. The preparation started when we first received our music parts in January. Tour seemed far away. All was well. The music chosen was unfamiliar, and the music students were working feverishly in the practice rooms to prepare for rehearsals. 

Soon this all changed. As the music began to come together, the harder licks became familiar, and the Wind Symphony began to communicate through their instruments without uttering a word. This was where the music began to come to life, but the tour still seemed distant. That was until March rolled around. Then all of a sudden, the tour was less than two weeks away. The pressure was high in rehearsals; the conversations were no longer lax. They were laced with excitement and nervousness at the unknown. The week before our big debut, our usual Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, noon to 1:50 p.m. rehearsals expanded into night rehearsals, composers visiting, and recording sessions. All the while, we music students had all of our regular classes and workloads. 

Great opportunities arose for the Wind Symphony members as we had the opportunity to work with composers, including James Stephenson and Roy Magnuson (a resident composer). The ensemble was also fortunate to collaborate with Dr. Rachel Hockenberry, featured in the piece Vivid Dreams for horn and wind ensemble. 

Tour soon became a mountain to conquer. It consumed everyone with its majestic peaks and pushed us all to our limits. It was a mass of energy that was released at our first concert Wednesday night and drove us through to our last performance Saturday afternoon. 

Tour was exhausting. It was an unforgettable experience, but it was exhausting. I have never quite felt how I did those three days with the ensemble. We had spent all semester together working on our repertoire, and here we were, presenting it to strangers in new auditoriums. It was enlightening because every performance was different. Every performance brought forth new knowledge of our ensemble and a new level of community within. It was bitter-sweet to play the music the last time. I felt like the energy in that high school gym was mixed. The audience was seeing another ensemble perform in a gym. To us, the Wind Symphony, we were saying goodbye to weeks of perseverance, diligence, and emotions we had formed for this music. 

Everyone was tired on that bus ride home. Compared to the first bus ride together, which was full of people turning around in their seats, Uno games on the floor, and snap chats being tossed to and from, the bus ride home was tranquil. Everyone was reflecting on all that had happened and all that had been accomplished. 

Looking back now, as the semester has come to a close, I would not trade my experience for anything in this world. I feel I grew as a musician, as a friend, and as a team member. Everyone had a different experience; this was mine. I can tell you that we made a difference on that tour. We had a passion for what we performed, and I can guarantee the audience felt that. I do not know how musicians do this professionally; I have so much respect for those who do. Even though it seemed so tremendously grueling at times, I would not have been able to do it without the support and energy of the ensemble together on the stage. 

Music school sometimes feels like the Harry Potter world, and that feeling is only confirmed when Dr. Marinello gestures for the ensemble to stand up at the end of the final piece. The auditorium fills with applause, and you cannot hold back that proud smile. It is truly magic…it could not be anything else. 

Where and when did we perform? 

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

  • 8 p.m.: Illinois State University Center for the Performing Arts       

Thursday, April 7, 2022

  • 12:30 p.m.: Huntley Middle School (DeKalb, Illinois)                                     
  • 7 p.m.: Prairie Ridge High School (Crystal Lake, Illinois)                        

Friday, April 8, 2022

  • 7:30 p.m.: College Band Directors National Association North Central Regional Conference
    The University of Wisconsin–Madison (Madison, Wisconsin)
    Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall                                   

Saturday, April 9, 2022

  • 2:50 p.m.: Chicagoland Invitational Concert Band Festival
    John Hersey High School (Arlington Heights, Illinois)                

2022 Performance Tour Program 

Invictus for brass ensemble (2020)
Anthony Barfield (b. 1983)

the softest breath. (2019)
Roy Magnuson (b. 1983)
Roy Magnuson, guest composer

Vivid Dreams for horn and wind
Catherine Likhuta (b. 1981)
Dr. Rachel Hockenberry, horn

American Guernica (1982/2008)
Adolphus Hailstork (b. 1941)
ed. Levine

Symphony No. 2: Voices (2016)
James Stephenson (b. 1969)

I. Prelude: “Of Passion”
II. Shouts and Murmurs
III. Of One
James Stephenson, guest composer


Photos and videos were captured during the 2022 Wind Symphony Tour on our Instagram page @ilstu_bands. The story highlights can be found at the top of the page under “Tour 2022.” 

Conducted by Anthony C. Marinello III, the Wind Symphony is the University’s premier wind band and features the finest wind and percussion musicians on campus.

More information about the 2022 Performance Tour can be found on the Illinois State University Band website.

For a schedule of upcoming band concerts and events, visit the Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts events calendar and follow the Illinois State University Bands on Facebook.