Andrea Weinert and Stephanie Kruse, both of Alta, are among the 59 members of the Northwestern College Symphonic Band who will be performing and ministering during a spring break tour of Venezuela March 3-13.
Weinert, a junior music major, plays the clarinet and Kruse is a junior elementary education major who performs both the oboe and English horn.
Based in Merida, a city of 350,000 nestled between the highest peaks of the Venezuelan Andes, the band will perform five full concerts of traditional and contemporary American band music, including one at an indoor bullfighting ring. The group will also give mini-concerts at high schools, colleges, a prison and a plaza.
The Northwestern students will spend a significant amount of time with members of the state of Merida's youth orchestra. The groups will rehearse and sight-see together and perform at least one joint concert.. "It's a marvelous opportunity for developing relationships," says Dr. Tim McGarvey, director of the Symphonic Band and assistant professor of music at Northwestern. "We're excited about that."
The Northwestern contingent views the experience as a combination concert tour and missions trip. "We seek to bring uplifting experiences to people's lives by using the musical gifts God has given us, and we also want to share the gift and joy of salvation. The chance to do that together is a marvelous thing," said McGarvey.
Band members have raised over $45,000 to cover travel and miscellaneous expenses such as printing programs and purchasing cases to transport big instruments. "The generosity of people has been outstanding. It's been an answer to a prayer," comments McGarvey. Students also raised money to buy 2,200 Spanish New Testaments for distribution at concerts and through personal interaction with Venezuelans.