2010 Jazz Ensemble Tour of Asia
On October 27, 2010 four faculty members (Drs. Bales, Berke, Foltz and Roland) and Dr. Terry Hynes (Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs) left Omaha for Seoul, South Korea, beginning a three-week tour of Asia that included South Korea, Japan, and China. Eventually the delegation would be joined by other UNO administrators and twelve music students. After shaking some jet lag, the group was joined by Tom Gouttierre (Dean of International Studies and Programs). The six individuals traveled to Daegu, located east of Seoul. There the group met with faculty, students and administrators from one of UNO's sister institutions, Yeungnam University. Everyone enjoyed visiting this most vibrant school nestled in the beautiful surroundings of the city of Daegu. After tours of the city, the university and the amazing UNESCO Heritage site of Gyeongju, the group had the opportunity to discuss potential faculty and student exchanges as well as give a presentation over UNO's on-line music courses. A highlight of the trip was the ceremony where Dr. Hynes and Dean Gouttierre signed an official agreement of exchange between Yeungnam University and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
On November 2, the group left South Korea for Tokyo. There they were met by Ed Quinn (UNO International Professional Development Program Manager), Peter Madsen (UNO Director of Jazz) and a jazz ensemble consisting of UNO music students Andrew Brown, Paige Garcia, Cayla Gillette, Tim Hillyer, Chris Hull, Jeff Malashock, Seth McKenzie, Jordan Relford, Mike Schreier, Rudy Semar, Kaitlin Thomas and Andrew Wahl. In addition, the UNO delegation of 18 individuals was joined by a delegation from Omaha Sister Cities Association (OSCA) headed by Jim Suttle, Mayor of Omaha, and Larry Uebner, Director of OSCA. After a day of touring Tokyo that included visits to the Meiji Shinto Shrine, the Imperial Palace, and the Asakusa Kannon Temple, the group moved on to Shiuozka, Omaha's first official Sister City. Here the combined OSCA and UNO delegation of 28 individuals was hosted for three days by our Shizuoka counterparts who are the Shizuoka City Association for Multicultural Exchange and Shizuoka University. The time in Shizuoka was action packed with formal dinners and events celebrating the 45th anniversary of the sister city relationship between Shizuoka and Omaha. The UNO Jazz Ensemble performed three concerts during the stay. One of the most incredible venues was having the honor of being a part of the 2010 DAIDOGEI World Cup. Daidogei is Japanese for "street performance." The World Cup is four days of street performances from amateurs and professionals from around the world. The performers are competitively selected by the Daidogei planning committee so to have the UNO group chosen for a performance was a great honor. Performances take place all over Shizuoka at intersections, streets and sidewalks. This annual event began in 1992 and now has an average attendance of over 1.5 million individuals. People travel from all over the world to visit this event. Another highlight of the stay in this charming city was the chance for everyone to spend a day with a Shizuokan host family. The hospitality and generosity that the host families provided is an experience that no one on the trip will forget. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
On November 7, the group bid a sad farewell to all of our newly-made friends and travelled to Kyoto on the famous “bullet train”. Dean Gouttierre and several members of the OSCA delegation returned to Omaha while the remaining delegation enjoyed the day visiting Nijo Castle, Kikakuji Temple, Kiyomizu Temple, and the Sannenzaka shopping street. The next day the UNO delegation bid farewell to the OSCA group and was joined by Merry Ellen Turner (UNO Director, International Programs). On this day we traveled to Hiroshima and visited the very moving Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum. The afternoon and evening were spent at another UNO Sister University, Hiroshima College of Foreign Languages. Here there was a presentation of on-line courses and a tremendous performance by the UNO Jazz Ensemble which brought the crowd to their feet begging for more and more music.
With the wonderful success of the on-line presentations, wonderful new relationships, and four out-standing performances by the jazz ensemble in Japan, it was time to move to China. From Hiroshima the group bid farewell to Dr. Hynes and flew to the amazing city of Shanghai. With some 26 million people, the city is an incredible mixture of the old and new including dozens of skyscrapers. The group experienced both worlds including a tour of Yu Garden, the Bund, and Nanjing Road. The following day everyone gathered on a bus for the four-hour ride to Hangzhou. This city is referred to as "The Honeymoon Capital of China," attracting many newlyweds due to its gorgeous location in the mountains and the West Lake District. While in Hangzhou, we were hosted by Hangzhou Normal University (HNU), another UNO sister university. Activities included a walking tour of the Lake District and a fantastic ride on one of the boats that tour the lakes. At the university several UNO presentations were given as well as another enthusiastically received concert by the Jazz Ensemble. The delegation was also treated to a concert of Chinese traditional music performed by HNU students and faculty. Again departing was difficult because we had to say goodbye to more friends, sights and fond memories.
Beijing is another Chinese city that defies description. The primary purpose of this final leg of the trip was to visit China University of Petroleum, another UNO sister university, but the delegation also had the opportunity to climb the Great Wall and see impressive sights including Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. In addition to several presentations given by the faculty and administrators, the jazz ensemble presented the last concert of their Asian tour. No one expected a performance that was going to hold a concert hall of over 700 seats that was sold out. Nor did they expect to have a two-story backdrop designed with UNO student photos. The jubilant audience could not get enough of the group's music. This was a tremendous end to the group's great Asian adventure. The following day everyone settled in for the long journey home. While some were sad going back to classes and the daily routine, everyone knew that these emotions would be accompanied with marvelous memories that will last a life time.