Reflections on an International Experience, Part II

by Michelle Hoffman

Enjoy conversations with two more members of the 2023 Belgium and The Netherlands Tour Orchestra.

Juilliard Student Returns for Unforgettable Journey

Meet French hornist Brooks Wisniewski who brought his talents to the 2023 Belgium and the Netherlands Tour alongside twelve other MYSO alumni. Brooks’s journey with MYSO spans back to fourth grade when he played in the entry-level string ensemble Prelude Orchestra as a cellist. Fast forward to today, and he is a second-year student at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City, having already played in renowned venues like Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.

Brooks attended the illustrious Interlochen Academy for senior year, leaving MYSO a year ahead of schedule. This unexpected twist set the stage for his enthusiastic embrace of the invitation to join the tour orchestra. He says, “I was grateful for the opportunity…it gave me more of an official ‘closure’ with MYSO, and it meant that I could perform with some of these musicians that I grew up with.”

He reflected that the chance to go on tour with MYSO also meant it was the first time playing in the same orchestra as his sister, Andie, a bassoonist. “That was a meaningful—and fun—experience for both of us,” and was their first time traveling out of the country.

Brooks found the audiences at their tour performances particularly gratifying. In his own words, “as a bonus, the people we met there were so kind—including kids from a Dutch youth orchestra who attended our concert in Amsterdam.” Reflecting on the concerts, he expressed astonishment, stating, “the audiences just showed up for this random group of kids from the United States…and wherever we played, they gave us standing ovations!”

But for Brooks, the real magic wasn‘t just in the music or the applause—it was in the shared love for the art and the camaraderie with a group of people he holds dear. “Traveling for music—that I love—and getting to travel and perform with this particular group of people—who I also love…that made it a such an amazing experience.”

Looking to the Future with Music

Trumpet player Milo Ascher auditioned directly into MYSO’s highest level ensemble, the Senior Symphony, as a high school junior in 2022. Though quite an achievement, it meant that he didn’t know many members of the orchestra initially.

The 2023 Belgium and the Netherlands Tour changed that for him. “My tour roommate, Ben, was assigned to me. Before the tour, he and I didn’t know each other at all…” That quickly changed. “…we settled into a routine, and it felt good to have a person there to share experiences with. It almost felt like we were brothers.”

The tour was quite a commitment. Musicians spent more than 60 hours together in rehearsals and pre-tour meetings. “Having all this time together not only pushed us as an orchestra to a higher level, but it took us to a high level of camaraderie.” Musicians on his tour bus bonded together in familiarity. Passing acquaintances became close friends.

Following the 10-day experience, Milo reevaluated his future after looking back on his tour experiences. “I took a night by myself to consider where I’d want to go with music…the trip had enough of an effect on me to strongly consider what future role I wanted music to play in my life,” significant because he’d never imagined music as a career or even a college major.

“Being a part of the orchestra pushed me to a higher level of playing and allowed me to realize where music can take me.”

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