SHS senior performs with KAM Band in Europe

Students and chaperones with the Kansas Ambassadors of Music Band visit the Alps, near Zermatt, Switzerland.
The Kansas Ambassadors of Music Band performs in Rothenburg, Germany.


Sabetha High School senior and clarinetist, RheaEtta Laipple, had the honor of performing and traveling with the Kansas Ambassadors of Music on their June 14-27, 2019, European tour.

The KAM Band was made up of high school students from all over Kansas. The students rehearsed for three days — a total of 24 hours — at Newman University in Wichita before departing for their two-week long tour of England, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany.

Europe was in the midst of a heat wave for most of the performances, so the students enjoyed performing outdoors in 90-plus degree weather for several of their concerts.

The band first performed in front of Windsor Castle in London when the Queen was in residence there. It began raining halfway through the performance.

The second performance was outside of Paris at the Place Napoleon in Fontainebleau. The band then performed in Crans-Montana, Switzerland; Seefeld, Austria; and Rothenburg, Germany, over the course of a week.

Each concert was comprised of nine to 12 pieces from the songs the students prepared while rehearsing at Newman University — Triumphant Fanfare, Encanto, Shaker Variants, Lassus Trombone, Rough Riders March, British Eighth March, James Bond Medley, Radetsky March, City of Lights, Persuasion, Home on the Range, Wizard of Oz Medley and The Stars and Stripes Forever. These pieces were chosen because they are representative of American band literature or great American film music.

Laipple said the most memorable performance of the trip was in Switzerland, where the band performed an encore of The Stars and Stripes Forever.

“The Swiss audience that we had was far more interactive than the English or French before them and was very exciting to play for,” she said.

Laipple’s favorite place on the tour was also Switzerland.

“The majesty of the Alps and the incredibly peaceful sense of nature at its finest and purest is truly unparalleled by anything I’ve ever seen,” she said.

The Kansas Ambassadors of Music tour Europe every odd year summer. Past Sabetha participants in the KAM band are Kinsey Menold, Cody Meyer and Ainsley Smith.

The main organizer for KAM is band director Damian Johnson, who previously taught at Hiawatha and currently teaches in Eudora. The head conductor of the band is Dana Hamant, a retired band director from Wichita — who also was given an award by the mayor of Rothenburg, Germany, on the trip.

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