Posted by: Phil Weiss | April 15, 2010

Brazil Tour Teaser

Hope this blog finds everyone doing well.  Below you will find a link that will give you a little “tease” to the upcoming Brazilian Documentary that will be available in July.  I invite everyone to see more from the trip on May 1st, where the Wind Ensemble will be performing at the President’s Concert in the COFAC Recital Hall.  Looking forward to seeing all of you there!

Posted by: Abby Rhodes | March 29, 2010

Rewind: Jardim Botânico performance caps tour

WIU Wind Ensemble at Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro

On the final day of a whirlwind tour through Salvador and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the WIU Wind Ensemble added aural beauty to a magnificent natural setting at Jardim Botânico, or the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden.  As the sun took a welcome descent in the four o’clock hour, the heat subsided just enough for a comfortable outdoor performance among flora, fauna, and an appreciative crowd of onlookers.  Following the performance, the WIU percussionists took one final opportunity to share their talent with local children.

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Posted by: Phil Weiss | March 26, 2010

WIU_Brazil Sequence 3

The WIU Wind Ensemble’s Trip to Brazil was indeed the “trip of a lifetime”, not only for the WIU students, faculty, alums and family members who participated but also for the people in Brazil who were touched by the Wind Ensemble’s inspiring music and their kindness, graciousness and professionalism.

As a 1976 graduate of WIU’s College of Fine Arts and Communication who lives in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, I, along with my wife Nisi Rodrigues who is Brazilian, were delighted to help plan the trip in conjunction with Mike Fansler and Conor O’Sullivan of Tatur Turismo and to assist Mike and Conor in hosting the Wind Ensemble during their time in Brazil. All of us here in Brazil were deeply impressed with both the caliber of musicianship and the caliber of people from WIU who participated in the trip.

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Posted by: Steve Scherer | March 25, 2010

It’s not wearing off yet

I have to admit, the thrill of this trip hasn’t worn off yet.  Not at all.  Every time I sit down at my computer throughout the day, my first click is on this blog, to see who has added something new.  Thanks again to Abby and Phil for all their hard work and contributions to this blog.  We’ll all look forward to your documentary: The Chronicles of Brazil – in Salvador, in Rio, and the Favela.  Thanks to all who keep posting.


Posted by: Abby Rhodes | March 24, 2010

Rewind: Corcovado/Christ the Redeemer

With the WIU Wind Ensemble Brazil Tour now a successful venture to be recorded in history books, it’s time to catch up on some posts lost along the way.  An incredibly busy tour schedule that left just small amounts of precious downtime, coupled with precarious Internet access, forced us to prioritize our blogging.  In the next few days, look for photos and information highlighting other important, or just plain funny, portions of our trip.

Alexandra O'Donnell and Tim Holl mimic Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado

Say the word, “Rio,” and a host of iconic images come to mind.  Many people will think first of the Christ the Redeemer statue, which towers atop the 2,400 foot Corcovado peak, its arms outstretched as if embracing the city and its people.  Brazil claims to have the world’s largest Catholic population, though we learned its devoutness is challenged each Sunday by “three Bs”:  ball, beach, and beer.  Despite the contradictory perspectives, the concrete and soapstone behemoth has been one of Rio’s top tourist attractions since 1931.

Visitors utilize a train, elevators/stairs, and an escalator to access the nearly 80 year-old statue

To access the Christ-of-stone, visitors first take a train through an Atlantic forest, a rare opportunity for city folk to experience flora akin to the varieties found in Brazil’s rain forests.

Train through Corcovado's Atlantic forest

When the railway ends, the stairs, elevators, and escalators begin, transporting tourists through the final stages of their ascent.  Those who elect to take the stairs get sneak peaks of breathtaking views that will construct an incredible panorama at the top of Corcovado.

View of Rio from Corcovado

In light of some battering by Mother Nature sustained in February, Christ the Redeemer is now undergoing reconstruction, hence the scaffolding surrounding the structure.

Posted by: Nikki Dobyns | March 23, 2010

Back to Normal?

A lot of us were complaining on the bus back from Chicago about not wanting to start classes again and everything. But, the transition back has been a lot easier than  coming back from Costa Rica. I still get to see everyone I was with. I am so thankful for that. I have people to talk to about all of the experiences because most of us are in class together. The return back from Costa Rica was different. We were from all different walks of life, and only two of us had class together, and I didn’t get to see any of the people I was able to get close with during the trip. I am so thankful that I got to go on this trip. I can not describe the feeling of gratitude I have for this trip. I experienced so much…I don’t even know where to start. I am just glad that I was able to have an opportunity like this, and after seeing and experiencing a lot of what I did in Brazil, this trip has solidified my desire to apply for the Peace Corps and help people. I am still working on my Portuguese. I never thought a trip like this would have this much impact. Thanks to all of those involved with the planning of the trip. Thanks for all of your hard work. I am so thankful to have had these experiences and I am forever changed because of this trip.

Posted by: mahankosky | March 22, 2010

A big thank you

I would just like to use this to say thank you for everyone who helped put this trip together for us. Not only was it a great experience for traveling but the memories that i made and others made will truly last a life time. In Music Therapy we talk about peak experiences and this was one of those for me and probably everyone else. The trip ran smoothly, sans a missing tuba in O’Hare but that got figured out really fast and we have that back.

Once again thank you.

Michael Hankosky

Music students from Rio's largest favela, Rocinha, perform for the WIU Wind Ensemble

Their backgrounds couldn’t be more different.  WIU Wind Ensemble members are largely middle class Americans from the flat expanses of Midwestern farmland.  They’re completing degrees at a respected university and will soon be earning tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.  Their counterparts come from Latin America’s largest shantytown, Rocinha, where families earn an average of $300 a month and live in homes literally stacked one on top of another, rising high into the mountains on Rio’s coast.   The bands’ members speak different languages and live in opposite hemispheres, but they share one thing in common: a love of music.

Rocinha resident, Jonas, joins the WIU WE percussion section for Sing, Sing, Sing

Last Friday, the bands combined for performances at a Rocinha music school and an adjacent warehouse-type building where local residents spend several months each year preparing for Brazil’s famous Carnival parades.

Dr. Mike Fansler presents Jonas with the Sing, Sing, Sing score

Below, watch a video of WIU percussionists joining the Rocinha band, then the WE playing the Brazilian national anthem.

Posted by: meredithroche | March 21, 2010


I cannot express the extent of how thankful I am to have had the opportunity to travel to Brazil with the WIU Wind Ensemble. This was the best experience of my life. I learned more about life on this trip than I have in any class. I learned about music, Portuguese, food, Brazilian culture, and communication. I have been pulled out of my box. I’m grateful to have been in Brazil and am hoping to go back as soon as possible.

I need to thank Dr. Fansler, for his idea.  Two summers ago, I was playing in the Macomb Municipal Band, and he told my friend and I that he was looking for a way to take the Wind Ensemble to Brazil. That makes this trip almost two years in the making! Thank you, and GOOD JOB!

 To everyone who was on this trip: thank you for letting me get to know you; and thank you for enhancing the positive atmosphere of this experience.

 To everyone I met in Brazil: thank you for greeting our band with open arms. I hope we meet again. Mantenha contato!

Thank you Mom, for knowing the importance of this experience, and helping me go.

This was my first time out of the country, but I now refuse to make it my last. Thank you for this life altering experience.

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