Music, food, culture mix in China trip
Sixteen-year-old Jessica Schweizer arrived home from a whirlwind tour of China with two unforgettable memories. First, the food. “The food was awesome,” she said. “It was just so, so good.” And second? Performing as a New Zealander on a stage more than 10,000 kilometres from home.
Jessica, who plays flugelhorn, was one of 20 members of the New Zealand Youth Brass Band chosen to go to China for an 11-day tour.
Starting in Beijing, the group performed for local schools and spent time exploring the capital city.
“It was so different to New Zealand,” the Matamata College student said.
“It was awesome but just huge – lots of people, massive buildings.
‘‘It was a big culture shock at first, but an amazing experience.”
After Beijing, the tour moved on to the northern city of Tianjin.
Here, the group performed at the Tianjin Children’s Cultural and Art Festival, an annual festival which celebrates peace, friendship and the future.
“We performed the haka and the national anthem,” Jessica said.
“It was a proud moment, it definitely hit home then that we were here to represent New Zealand.”
The tour was an opportunity to meet people from all over the world and to get to know other members of the band better, she said.
On arriving back in New Zealand, Jessica was named the most outstanding player of the tour.
“It came as a complete surprise,” she said.
“All the other players in the band are so amazing in my eyes so it was such a shock getting the award.”
It was the second time in a few weeks Jessica was recognised for her talent, with a strong performance at the New Zealand Brass Band National Championships shortly before she left on tour.
Competing in the Junior Horn section, Jessica finished third equal overall and went on to compete in the Junior Champion of Champions later that night.
This round saw the highest placegetter of each instrument compete for an overall title and Jessica earned third place.
“It gave me a lot of confidence to go and play in China and play in the New Zealand Youth band,” she said.
Eleven days in China does not come cheap and Jessica said her trip would not have been possible without the support of the Matamata community.
“I have to thank Matamata College, Matamata Brass Friends of the Band, Matamata Creative Arts, Matamata Brass and Te Awamutu Brass,” she said.
“And a huge thanks to my tutor Robin Jobe.
‘‘I don’t think I would have got anywhere near as far as I have without him.”