Winthrop's Spanish caravan

More than 75 people will board three planes on Wednesday to represent Winthrop University at an international music festival in Spain.

The Winthrop/Carolinas Wind Orchestra will perform for about 90 minutes to a crowd of several thousand at the International Music Festival of Malgrat de Mar near Barcelona, Spain. The performance will usher in two weeks of performances by concert and marching bands from throughout Europe.

"When I heard that they were considering bringing in a group to do this, that's when I went to work to make sure our group was considered," said Winthrop director of bands Bill Malambri, who added that a little politicking helped the orchestra win the invitation.

Malambri said the Wind Orchestra is believed to be the first American band invited to perform.

Keeping up their skills

The 76-member wind orchestra is comprised of undergraduate and graduate students as well as professionals and music teachers from the Rock Hill-Charlotte area.

The group's music is a mix of sounds from marches to orchestral pieces. Members spend several hours every week practicing.

"It's just an opportunity for them to keep using their skills that they worked hard getting," said Donald Rogers, chairman of the department of music at Winthrop. "Most band directors don't have time to play very much. They're usually too busy teaching. So, this gives them an outlet to keep their skills going.

"Then, our students get to sit in with these people and play with them."

The group will spend a week in Spain, attending the festival and seeing the sites in Barcelona. The ensemble also will put on a free community performance.

Trumpet player Scott Clowes, who has been with the group for about seven years, said he is looking forward to the sights and sounds of Spain. But most of all, he's excited to spend time with the other band members, who he said have a great sense of camaraderie.

"I think it's a great opportunity for us to represent the school internationally as our alma mater," he said.

Once back in the states, the orchestra will perform a portion of the program at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 on campus at Byrnes Auditorium.