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For nearly 30 years, the CUW Symphonic Wind Ensemble (SWE) has traveled all over the globe on their annual music tour. Having visited 39 states and been on 6 overseas tours, the annual SWE tour is the highlight of the year for the majority of those who participate.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SWE tour, like many activities and events, has been on hiatus for the past two years. Now, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble is ready to go on tour once again, this time to Phoenix, AZ. Students and faculty share their hopes and expectations for the tour which is just around the corner.

Dr. Louis Menchaca, Chair of the Music Department, is the conductor of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble. As the tour rapidly approaches, he expresses excitement for being on the road again and sharing music with others.

“[Tour] is a crowning achievement of the students’ musical accomplishments, and what I’ve missed most is having the kids show off their musical expertise,” Menchaca said.

Because this is the first SWE tour since 2020, it will be a new experience for a majority of the musicians. Dylan Johnson, a senior at CUW, was a freshman SWE musician on the last tour in 2020. Being one of the few current students to have been on a SWE tour, he shares why it is important to him personally.

“[Tour] is a fun thing to do with all the people you play music with,” Johnson said. “I’ve definitely made some lifelong friends through band, but the SWE tour is what really cemented those friendships.”

Since most of the band has not been on a SWE tour, the experience should be similar for both freshman and upperclassmen according to freshman Josh Michel. He shares his anticipation as the tour approaches.

“I think [tour] is going to be great,” Michel says. “Being in a different part of the country where we are able to show off what we have been working on will be a great experience.”

While making music and sharing it with others is the main goal of the SWE tour, Menchaca says that the camaraderie among students is the aspect of the tour he is most excited to experience again.

“There is a certain energy and excitement about playing on the road, and we’ve missed that,” Menchaca said. “I’m also looking forward to seeing the students working together, getting to know each other, and all the shenanigans as well.”

Dr. Menchaca and the musicians will be leaving for Arizona on January 8th for their week-long tour. Hopes are high as the musicians prepare for the return of the SWE Tour.


—Seth Manchester is a writer for The Beacon, the official student newspaper of Concordia University Wisconsin. Seth is a Senior Mass Communication major with a minor in Spanish.

This article was originally posted on December 20th, 2022.