On the 17 November, sixteen Queensland students embarked on a wonderful journey to perform at the Western International Band Clinic (WIBC). I was fortunate to be one of those sixteen Queensland students to participate at the 2014 Pacific Honours Ensemble Program.
The Pacific Honours Ensemble Program (Young Conservatorium of Music) forms part of the Western International Band Clinic held in Seattle, Washington USA, and involves rehearsals and performances with six different guest conductors from all over the world in an intensive four day program. PHEP is part of an exchange program, with the renowned State Honours Ensemble Program (SHEP). As a WIBC participant we had an opportunity to work with conductors Robert W. Smith, Mike Bankhead, Thomas Leslie, David Holsinger, Tim Lautzenheiser and Terry Austin. We performed with over 600 students from throughout America.
Some of the highlights of this amazing journey were the opportunity to see Beethoven’s Fifth performed by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and the rehearsal with the University of Washington Symphonic Wind Ensemble. We also had the opportunity to sightsee. In the course of our stay, we visited the Experience Music Project (a music, sci-fi and pop culture museum), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Underground Tour, Space Needle and the famous Pike’s Place Market which is known for their fish-tossing fisherman and home to the first ever Starbucks outlet.
When we arrived at Washington University we were given a special tour of the campus and its facilities. We had a great the opportunity to see the inside of Suzzallo Library (commonly associated with the great hall in the Harry Potter movies). My PHEP friends and I had the opportunity to meet lots of interesting musicians and we made many friends (perhaps some of them may even become our lifelong friends). I particularly enjoyed how we (PHEP’ers) along with the University of Washington students had a sectional on our first rehearsal prior to joining back with the Washington University Wind Ensemble.
My trip to Seattle USA was a trip of a life time. At WIBC it was interesting to see how the various conductors work so differently to what we are used to here in Australia. Participating at PHEP 2014 helped me have a better understanding of what it is like to be a university music student in the USA. One of the most rewarding aspects of my journey to Seattle was the opportunity to interact with the local students at the University of Washington, and later with the American participants at WIBC. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the little differences and similarities between the Australian students and the Americans. It was so much fun trying to imitate their accents and watching my American friends try to speak “Australian”. I was fantastic to share our passion for music with these wonderful people.
I was delighted to soak up the American culture for the ten days that I was in Seattle. All in all, it was just a tremendous experience as I was able to integrate new music skills, as well as new knowledge and techniques for my clarinet playing with former ones. The learning I acquired was just simply amazing. I will always remember the memories we all shared. We PHEP’ers definitely did Australia proud!
Monique Baker – Year 11 Student