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WIU Hosting Australian High School Musicians This Week

April 16, 2018

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MACOMB, IL -- This month, a group of 72 student musicians from Australia will embark on a tour of musical hot spots in the United States. They will perform in Los Angeles with jazz great Bob Mintzer, in Chicago, in New York's Carnegie Hall and in one other location: Western Illinois University.

The students are from Chatswood, a town about five miles from Sydney, Australia.
While music is not part of the official curriculum in Australia, the students of Chatswood High School participate in concert band, big bands, string ensemble, senior strings, cello ensemble, jazz combos, guitar groups, percussion ensemble, choir and senior vocal groups. The school offers these opportunities by allowing students to practice before and after school. The success of these groups is reflected in world tours, performing in Prague, Vienna, Salzburg and Montreux in 2015.

The collaboration between Chatswood High School and Western Illinois University began 12 years ago when WIU Director of Bands Mike Fansler traveled to Chatswood for a residency. The value of this experience generated demand for Fansler to make five additional trips to Australia over the last decade to work with Chatswood students, as well as 10 other Australian high schools.

The student musicians and 13 staff members from Chatswood will visit Western from April 16-18 to study with Fansler and WIU's instrumental faculty, including Professor John Vana (saxophone), Professor John Cooper (jazz, trumpet), Professor John Mindeman (jazz, trombone), Professor George Turner (guitar), Professor Micheal Stryker (jazz, piano), Associate Professor Kevin Nichols (jazz, percussion), Assistant Professor Matthew Hughes (string bass), Professor Rick Kurasz (percussion) and Associate Professor Richard Hughey (orchestral studies).

In addition to the many masterclasses being offered by the WIU instrumental faculty, collaborative concerts will be open to the public. A concert featuring the Chatswood High School students and the WIU Jazz Studio Orchestra will be held at noon Tuesday, April 17. A WIU Wind Ensemble concert collaboration with Chatswood will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 17. Both concerts will be held in the COFAC Recital Hall and are open free to the public.

"It is wonderful for our students to be able to collaborate with international students," said Fansler about serving as an International Faculty Ambassador. "This type of engagement provides our students new perspectives relating to world music."

A similar global partnership has grown into a strong relationship for WIU, when multiple visits to Brazil culminated in a Memorandum of Understanding between WIU and the Federal University of Bahia in Salvador. Recent activities include the WIU Wind Ensemble's collaboration with the Federal Universities of Bahia and Rio de Janeiro in 2010, Fansler's five-week residency at several Brazilian universities in 2012, and the WIU Jazz Studio Orchestra's tour of Salvador in 2014.

This visit from Chatswood elevates an already strong relationship with WIU.

"The inclusion of Western Illinois University in the Chatswood USA tour validates the importance of our mission to promote musical excellence and speaks volumes about the prowess of our musical faculty," said Fansler.

For more information about the Chatswood High School and WIU collaborative concerts, contact Karla White in the School of Music at (309) 298-1505.

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