BYU Symphony Band visits Champion

CHAMPION – With members from across the United States and Canada, the Brigham Young University-Idaho Symphony Band joined the Champion High School Band for a special musical performance Wednesday at the high school.

The 40-member BYU band’s visit was part of its 17-day tour of the Midwest.

Diane Soelberg, director, and chair of the music department at BYU, said the band tours every other year, and leaders of the Churches of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints find cities where there is local interest for the band to perform.

The tour started in Chicago and headed east, stopping in Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. Tim Busch, a former bishop of the Champion church, said the band members are staying with church members.

The local church hosted a dinner Wednesday prior to the performance.

”They told us they were going to be in the Ohio area and we made ourselves available. It is a great opportunity for the families hosting them and the students who are away from their own families to still have a sense of family while being here,” Busch said.

He said some of the Champion students, including his children, may attend BYU in the future.

All but one of the band members is a music major and planning for careers in music education, performance or music therapy.

“They are a fabulous group of young people. They love their music,” Soelberg said.

Alexis Smerdon of California, who graduated recently with trombone performance and will begin working on her master’s degree, said this is the first time she has toured.

”I have never been anywhere east of Utah. It has been very exciting. This is my last gathering before I leave school,” she said.

Smerdon said what she noticed about Ohio was ”everything was very green with lots of hills.”

She and Lacey Brownell of Montana said they have met many members of the many churches while on tour.

Smerdon said they enjoy working with elementary students at schools they stop at on their tours as part of workshops.

”It is inspiring to them to get to hear college level performances and see that you can do music after high school,” she said.

The symphonic band followed an opening performance by the Champion High School band.