Digging through a cardboard box in the corner of his office, Director of Bands Jim Colonna pulls out a proposed itinerary pamphlet for the Wind Symphony, detailing a potential trip to London to perform at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Flipping through the pages past details about performances and accommodations, he stops at a page and points to the $4,095-per-person bottom line.
A conference call with a representative for KI Concerts, a special interest travel agency, and a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in March solidified the invitation extended to Colonna and the 54-member UVU Wind Symphony. According to Colonna, the match was made when he was asked what he would program for a concert if they whereas able to go. “I started listing pieces, and I could hear him and another man from England saying, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what we’re looking for!’”
It seems like making sure the Wwind Ssymphony made it to London for the games would be a no-brainer, but securing nearly $250,000 is a daunting task for any university. Even if knowledge of the trip werewas part of budget planning a year ago, the funds would have been difficult to arrange. “It’s stuck. We were supposed to have our first payment in on May 15. No donor, no payment,” Colonna said.
“I don’t think there is any doubt in anyone’s mind that this ought to happen,” said Barbara Hammond, Aassistant Ddean to the Sschool of the Aarts. Hammond has been working tirelessly for over a month to find donors to support the trip. “We don’t have the money so we have to turn to the community, to businesses and philanthropists.” The faculty members working to make this tripp happen agree that as far as funding goes, it’s all or nothing. “I don’t think it’s an option to put the funding on the students…either we send the whole wind symphony, or we don’t,” Hammond said.
When he was brought on as a faculty member two years ago, Colonna didn’t think it would be the beginning of a career path for him here at UVU. His mind set changed, however, after he got to know the students. “I started working with the students, and they grew immensely. Quickly,” Colonna said. He started with a conservative program for the wind symphony, but Colonna soon realized that the musicians were willing to respond if he pushed them. So push he did.
“There is a dedication to the quality of the music we perform and the quality of our performance. There is a huge goal, collectively, to be the best wind symphony in the university system here in Utah, and I appreciate that,” Colonna said.
When asked about how the wind symphony went from a conservative repertoire to an invitation to play at the Olympics, Colonna simply said, “I have no idea.”
Hanging up the phone from the unexpected IOC conference call, Colonna’s mind spun. With tenure on the horizon, the repercussions of an opportunity like this would brighten the gaze of any professor. Colonna’s first thought, however, was of his students. “What I did was I grabbed the first student that was in the hallway and said, ‘Ccome in here. I gotta tell you something.’ They could tell it was something good that was up. I told them, ‘We just got invited to play at the 2012 Olympics…in London!’ What a great experience for all of my students!”
According to Dean K. Newell Dayley of the UVU School of the Arts, a performance tour is “a wonderful opportunity for students to mature and form lasting relationships with the culture and people they visit.” It is clear talking with Dayley that if it were up to him, funding would not be an issue. “This university is severely underfundedunder funded. It doesn’t receive the level of funding that other institutions in the state do, and yet it’s achieving more for less,” Dayley said.
While the reality of a trip to the London 2012 Olympics may lie at the mercy of altruistic community members and business owners, the continued success of the wind symphony is a responsibility that the faculty and student musicians already own.