Hofmann: L'ultimo tour musicale internazionale

By Maryellen Hofmann

Gennaio 12, 2012 3:14PM

Dr. Michael Rogers (top row left) with the Brazil Tour group. | Supplied Photo

Aggiornato: Gennaio 12, 2012 4:06PM

Mike Rogers wears many hats in the community. The people along Dartmouth Road call him neighbor. Members of Flossmoor Community Church count him among their congregation. Supporters of the Illinois Philharmonic know him as an active board member and longtime concert-goer. To students, staff and parents of Homewood-Flossmoor High School, Dr. Michael Rogers is the longtime orchestra director and chair of the fine arts department. The students, parents and community members who raise funds and rehearse to go on an international tour with him every third year simply know him as “Doc.”

Students from each of the high school’s music groups — band, orchestra and choir — rotate, with each group taking a performance trip every third year. This spring’s orchestra tour to Brazil, the first to take place in South America, will be Rogers’ last. Rogers retires at the end of this school year. He takes with him fond memories and leaves behind a legacy that spans eight international music tours involving hundreds of student musicians and countless contributions from the community that made them a reality.

According to tour publicity chair Kim O’Lone, the tradition of H-F students performing in international music tours dates back to 1970.

“Last year the H-F Symphonic Band went to Spain and Morocco,” O’Lone said. “Students have traveled worldwide, alla Russia, Grecia, Scandinavia, China and Austria” in more than 30 years of international performances.

Rogers first participated in the international tour in 1991. He has led tours for adults and is the first to acknowledge that traveling with kids is “a little bit less predictable.” Nevertheless, Rogers is firm in his belief that kids can and will rise to the occasion. There is something about traveling as a group, working alongside their parents to raise funds, and preparing to perform a repertoire that will be repeated for several discerning audiences that Rogers says builds a sense of responsibility and accomplishment in young people.

Rogers is hard pressed to single out any one trip as his favorite. But he points to the Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic tour as one of the most memorable. It took place on the heels of the U.S. military action in Afghanistan in 2001. He recalls that it was questionable whether it was safe to travel as a group. Each student’s family made the final determination whether to allow their children to participate. Rogers says the students were met with gratitude and warmth at every performance.

Rogers has gone on eight orchestra tours during his tenure. Lungo il percorso, he and students have visited several concentration camps, learned about different cultures and economies, and performed at a level that Rogers says would not have been possible otherwise. Rogers thinks that Homewood-Flossmoor might be the only high school in Illinois whose students participate in annual international music tours.

“I really think [the international music tours] have been a great thing for the community at large,” Rogers said.

The high school does not sponsor or pay for the tours. All expenses are paid by individual families and through community fundraising. Rogers says students have been working since last summer parking cars, performing for Homewood’s French Market, raking leaves and selling items from movie tickets and Carson’s coupon books to Christmas wreaths.

The fundraising typically culminates with a live and silent auction. Quest'anno non fa eccezione. The event is Jan. 21 at H-F High School, 999 Kedzie Ave., Flossmoor. Auction organizers say donations have been generous in spite of tight financial times. Highlights of the auction items include: A one-week beach house rental in Michigan City (near the Indiana dunes), diamond earrings from Marshall Pierce Co., a foursome of golf at Olympia Fields Country Club including 18 holes and lunch, a private party at Flossmoor Community Church Community House with music by Staff Infection the South Side Horns, four one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper passes, $500 off braces or Invisalign and orthodontic records and exam with Lisa H. Grant, a Flossmoor dentist. This year’s tour will take place during the students’ spring break in March and will include about 50 orchestra and band students. They will leave Chicago March 23 and will perform in Sau Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Se si va: For tickets and additional information, contact [email protected] or call Sharon Bouchie at (708) 288-7055. L'ingresso è $8 in anticipo e $10 alla porta. All proceeds will benefit the H-F Fine and Performing Arts Council to fund the 2012 Brazil tour.

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