WPI Wire, Vol. 10, No. 1 - Spring 1996

Spotlight on Student

Musical groups tour Russia

"The reception we received at all the performances is beyond description," noted Douglas Weeks, administrator of applied music, on his return from a seven-day tour of Russia. "There were full houses and receptive audiences. We couldn't have hoped for a be tter welcome."

With Weeks were 60 WPI students representing seven WPI musical groups: the Medwin String Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, Concert Band, Trombone Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra, Stage Band and Jazz Ensemble. The musicians left Worcester March 4 and returned March 11 from the tour that included performances in St. Petersburg and Pushkin.

"Pushkin was especially noteworthy," said Weeks of Worcester's sister city. "Our first concert, on the eve of International Women's Day, was before an audience of all age groups. Later that day we were guests of the mayor of Pushkin at a reception at City Hall. "The mayor was amazed that the WPI students were amateur musicians, many aspiring to be engineers, attending a technological university."

Weeks himself was most impressed by one of the students at the Pushkin Music School who sat in with the WPI group. The 7-year-old girl, an outstanding musician on the piccolo, had recently won an international competition.

Members of the Stage Band and the Jazz Ensemble performed at the Pushkin Military High School as part of a joint concert, then joined musicians from that school for a performance at the Cafe Worcester in Pushkin. "In St. Petersburg the band and the ensemb le performed at the Jazz Philharmonic Hall, where the audience clapped for encores," noted Weeks. "They didn't want us to leave."

The WPI students also performed in St. Petersburg at the Glinka Cappella and the Mravinski Music School. While there, they also had ample time for sightseeing and meeting with other musicians. This was the second time WPI musical groups had traveled to St . Petersburg. The first time, in 1990, the country and city were still known as the Soviet Union and Leningrad.

"This was one of the smoothest tours I've been on," said Weeks. "In St. Petersburg, we even had interviews on radio and with several newspapers about WPI and our programs."

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