Mu­sic, food, cul­ture mix in China trip

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By NI­COLA STE­WART

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.”

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