The John Hersey High School Band returned from a nine day tour of Italy this past Wednesday, June 13th. The band traveled with 96 performing Hersey students, and was under the direction of Mr. Scott Casagrande. Hundreds of enthusiastic audience members came out to attend each of the four much anticipated concert performances, which took place in Sacrofano (Lazio), Montecatini Terme (Tuscany), Volterra (Tuscany), and Vittorio Veneto (Veneto).
"The students grew in every way on this trip," said Casagrande, director of bands at Hersey since 1999. "Their sense of responsibility and confidence was noticeable as the trip progressed and the musicianship displayed on their last concert in Vittorio Veneto is one that I will remember for a very long time. Taking in all that Italy had to offer was the opportunity of a lifetime for them and I am so very proud of their eagerness and excitement to learn and grow. They represented our band program, school and community with class and distinction."
Also traveling with the band were guest conductors Mr. Todd Smith, director of bands at River Trails Middle School in Mount Prospect, and Ms. Candace Horton, director of bands at Thomas Middle School in Arlington Heights. Ms. Jayne Diliberto, a 2016 Hersey graduate now pursuing vocal performance at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, was featured as a solo soprano vocalist. Mr. Thomas Martin, a 2013 Hersey graduate and recent graduate from Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music, was featured as a trumpet and jazz vocal soloist.
The extensive concert program repertoire included more than twenty pieces from both Italian and American composers. Featured Italian composers included Puccini, Verdi, Ponchielli, Giordano, and Delle Cese; American works by Fillmore, Sousa, Williams, Anderson, and Count Basie were also featured.
In addition to the concert venue cities, the students also toured sights in Rome, Pompeii, Siena, Florence, Lucca, Pisa, and Venice.
Hersey's band previously toured and performed in Italy in 2013.