STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State's 60-member Wind Ensemble is headed to Europe this week for a 10-day trip to Italy for the XXIV International Music Meeting in Padova.
In addition to performing with other skilled musicians, members will have the opportunity to experience Italian culture.
Elva Kaye Lance, the university's director of bands, said the trip will be a special experience for both accompanying faculty members and students who have been practicing and preparing for the self-funded trip for approximately 18 months.
"We try to make an international-travel opportunity available to our band members every three to four years, and some of our students who are going have just graduated," she said. "This trip will be a great way for them to begin their careers."
The group will perform both American and Italian selections. Additionally, the brass section will help conclude worship services at the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi, said Craig Aarhus, associate bands director.
Among the Italian selections will be "Canto degli Italiani," Italy's national anthem; "Nessun Dorma," a famous aria from Giacomo Puccini's opera "Turandot;" and "Italian Holiday," a medley of popular songs and arias, Lance said. Featured U.S. pieces will include "Stars and Stripes Forever," "At a Dixieland Jazz Funeral" and "Salute to American Jazz," among others.
"The Italian selections have been part of our programs throughout the year, but the jazz pieces and 'Stars and Stripes' will be new for the trip," Lance said.
Additionally, the ensemble members will meet and perform with one of the country's oldest town bands, La Banda Musicale di Bevagna.
"Students in the town band have done exchanges with the U.S., and their English will be good," Lance said. "We'll share a meal and a concert.
"This band has a rich history, and any time that we can meet musicians from other parts of the world, that is exciting."
Aarhus said other stops will include Milan--and Teatro alla Scala, that city's world-famous opera house--as well as Venice, Florence and Rome. Students will also visit a family at a working olive farm, eat with them and a night spent at a monastery in Spoleto, an ancient city in the Umbria region.
"Not only will we explore and make music with other cultures, we'll also be able to share our culture," Lance said. "This trip will give the students a taste of the modern-day cities in Italy and the flavor of what life is like on the countryside."
A band director for more than three decades and MSU bands leader since 2002, Lance said international trips help to expand and enhance the students' worldview.
"They're going to understand our place in history better and come back with an appreciation of what we have in America," Lance emphasized. "Travel brings history to life, gives it more meaning and makes it personal."
The ensemble's first overseas trip took place in 2008 with nine days in Ireland, Wales and England. In 2011, the musical ambassadors made a two-week performance tour in Germany and Austria.
Learn more about the wind ensemble at www.msuband.msstate.edu.
See www.msstate.edu to discover more about MSU.