Sitting in the McCarran Las Vegas Airport four college students lounge on the gray chairs waiting for a flight back to Cedar City, Utah. Darin Hunsinger, a Southern Utah University senior studying music, thumbs through his passport, finally a black inked stamp is shown, proof of a month long trip through China performing with some of the most acclaimed Chinese symphonies and orchestras.
Hunsinger was joined with three other percussion students and four professors from the University’s Department of Music, all of who debuted their boundless talent to audiences in Wuhan, Changsha City and Beijing.
Once landing in Beijing at the beginning of their stay, the first order of business was rehearsals with the Hubei Symphony Orchestra where the fused orchestra went on to perform Dr. Keith Bradshaw’s, SUU professor and Department of Music chair, original “Canyon Concerto, for Percussion and Orchestra.”
The professor’s four-piece concerto, dedicated to four of the national parks in Utah, was performed at one China’s most reputable concert halls, leaving the visiting percussion students in awe.
“The hall was the largest I’ve ever performed in,” reported Darin Hunsinger, senior music student. “Being able to stand in the back of the stage on the percussion platform with a full orchestra spread in front of me and each seat filled in the Hall was the best view.”
Traveling to Wuhan, Changsha City and Beijing — all with large percussion and orchestra instruments in tow — the T-Bird entourage performed at Central China Normal University, Hunan Normal University, American Studies Center of Changsha and Peking University Chinese Music Institute where there was a joint concert with Peking University and SUU, which was part of the Yuanpei Festival.
According to Dean Mendini “the performances further cemented Southern Utah University’s strong ties with numerous Chinese universities and cultural institutions. As for our students who performed, their genuine artistry and professionalism broke down language and cultural barriers and demonstrated that music bridges all differences as it engages and enlightens. I look forward to more creative partnerships and performances in the future throughout China.”
Lynn Vartan, associate professor of music and professional percussionist, said of their travels, “It speaks volumes about the quality of education our students are receiving for them to be comfortable performing with professional musicians.”
Now with each traveling musician with a new stamp in their passport and suitcases filled with tea leaves and souvenirs for waiting family members, they each left behind rich relationships and connections with the prestigious universities and orchestras that will continue to grow in future expeditions to China.