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WHS junior to ‘Sound’ off on tour

Woodbury High School junior Marta Williams, who plays the flute for WHS’ concert band, will be traveling to six countries in Europe July 4-26 as part of the Sound Of America tour. (Staff photo by Amber Kispert-Smith)

Music has always been a big part of Marta Williams’ life.

“My family is pretty much all musical,” Williams, who plays the flute, said. “I love music because it’s a really nice way to relax, but also challenge yourself.”

The Woodbury High School junior will be taking her flute international this summer when she heads to Europe with the Sound Of America tour.

Sound Of America, which features both band and chorus, will travel to and perform in six countries in Europe from July 4 to July 26.

“I thought it would be really fun to experience the different cultures through music,” Williams said.

The Sound Of America band will feature between 40 and 50 musicians, ages 15-20, from nearly all 50 states.

A total of three Minnesota musicians, including Williams, will be going on the tour.

The Sound Of America

The Sound of America Honor Band and Chorus, which is celebrating its 38th year, is recognized as one of the finest and most successful European concert tour programs in existence.

Over the years, it has received international acclaim for its success in achieving cultural relationships with European countries.

In order to qualify to join Sound Of America, all musicians had to be carefully screened before being chosen after going through a rigid character and musical evaluation.

Williams said she was first approached about applying for Sound Of America last spring when she was selected as an alternate for the Minnesota All State Band.

“I decided not to do Sound of America this past summer because it was pretty short notice,” she said.

Williams said she wanted to apply for this summer’s tour because it sounded like an exciting opportunity.

“You get to learn about cultures through music,” she said. “I love music, I love traveling and I love cultures.”

The Sound Of America tour will kick off at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, where the group will spend four days rehearsing before boarding a plane to Europe.

The group will travel to six countries total – Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France and Luxembourg.

All musicians were responsible for paying their own way.

During the tour, the band and chorus will present nine performances in some of Europe’s top concert halls and cathedrals including: St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and Grindelwald’s Musica Theatre in Luxembourg.

“We get to play in some pretty awesome places,” Williams said.

In addition to the performances, the Sound of America musicians will also be able to experience the different countries through tours and activities.

A tradition of music

Williams became involved in music at a very young age – performing with Woodbury Community Theatre and taking piano lessons.

Williams said she made the transition to flute in fifth grade because she was looking for a second instrument.

“My mom used to play flute, so it was a pretty easy choice,” she said. “I like the high clear sound.”

Music isn’t necessarily something that Williams wants to pursue professionally, she said.

“Music is not something that I see myself doing professionally as a career, but it’s definitely something I see myself continuing to do throughout my life,” she said.

Williams said she is eager to participate in the Sound Of America tour because she is expecting to learn a lot.

“I think I’m going to learn a lot from the other musicians because there’s always something to be learned from working in an ensemble,” she said. “Plus, I’m excited about getting to see all the different cultures.”  

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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