Local high school musicians, Breanna Penenger and Adriana Eastman from Perry High School, will tour Europe with the Iowa Ambassadors of Music (IAM) July 3-18.

These local students are part of a select group of 390 student musicians, advisers and parents from across Iowa. The 2018 tour is a 21-day event that includes four days of rehearsal in Grinnell, with a farewell concert at 7 p.m. on July 2 at Grinnell College (Darby Gymnasium). The Ambassadors then have a 16-day concert tour through England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy and Liechtenstein. The students will perform in each country except Liechtenstein.

The IAM tour Europe on alternate years. To be considered for membership in IAM, students must be recommended by their school music teachers as having superior music skills and possessing strong character. After this initial recommendation, the students are contacted about the opportunity to participate in the tour. This year the students perform in either the 200-member band or 150-member choir on the tour. Both Eastman and Penenger were nominated for this tour by former Perry High band director Brandon Weeks. Penenger is a 2018 graduate of Perry High School and will be performing with the choir. Eastman is an incoming senior at Perry High School and will be performing with the band as a percussionist.

Being a member of the IAM tour means that through performance, the participants participate in a sharing of cultures. One of the highlights from past tours has been when the students realize the USA’s national march, the “Stars and Stripes Forever,” by John Philip Sousa, is a well-known and popular march in Europe. The choir’s opportunity to perform its selections in settings with over a thousand-year heritage gives the students a chance to add a new page in the cultural venue of Europe.

Dr. Morgan Jones, Professor Emeritus from the University of Iowa, is the Founder and Executive Director. Dr. William Carson, Director of Bands at Coe College, is the Administrator and Tour Director, and conducts the IAM band. Dr. Lee Nelson, of Wartburg College, conducts the choir. Forty Iowa music teachers/musicians will assist in the musical preparation of the ensembles. The music teachers instruct the students during the rehearsals in Grinnell, perform in the ensembles next to the students and serve as advisers on the tour.

The 2018 European tour is IAM’s sixteenth trip. Since the group was established in 1988, over 5,000 student musicians have delighted European audiences with their performances as the Iowa Ambassadors of Music.