Besides the official Beijing 2008 Olympic Orchestra, many other American marching and concert bands made the trip to China this summer to take part in the excitement leading up to these historic games.
Like the Beijing 2008 Olympic Orchestra, they had the opportunity to perform on the Great Wall of China as well as two additional “exchange concerts” with Chinese student musicians.
Band director Eric Weirather says these cultural exchanges were the highlight of everyone’s trip. “We met a little bit ahead of time where we got to talk to them and exchange gifts,” he says. “Then we performed for them and they performed for us. People were very warm and friendly. If I had to describe it, they kind of treated us like rock stars. When we finished, the kids were like, ‘When are we going to do this again?’ This was amazing!”
Weirather would recommend the trip to other groups. “I would recommend anyone to go any year,” he says. “We had as many as two or three guides with us at all times. We never had any incident with anyone feeling uncomfortable. It was amazing.”