When Amery native Courtney Wilson got her hands on her first musical instrument at a young age, it ignited an excitement in her that has stayed strong throughout the years. Recently she was able to share her talent in Europe, where once again it was proven music has no language barrier.
“I bought my first flute when I was 10-years-old, in fourth grade, as a birthday present, but I didn't start playing it until just after Christmas the same year (2005). I received a couple lessons from Konny Jorgenson about how to hold the flute and how to get a good sound out of it. After that, once fifth grade band came around, the passion for playing followed with me throughout middle and high school and college bands,” said Wilson.
Wilson has focused for the most part on the flute throughout the years. She enjoys testing herself with a variety of different pieces. She said, “The music I have played in band, and on my own, almost always has sections within that require many different techniques that can be done on the flute, making the piece fun and interesting. From fast runs and difficult trills to even some beat-boxing, I always like to take on these kind of challenges to help myself become a better performer, no matter how hard they are.”
The University of Wisconsin Superior symphonic and jazz bands perform together on tours every four years. Wilson had the privilege to perform with the symphonic band on their 2015 Panama Tour, as a student.
Early this summer, Wilson took another voyage with the group. This adventure sent the musicians to Latvia and Estonia, Baltic states in the northeastern region of Europe on the shores of the Baltic Sea.
“To be given the opportunity to perform with them for a second time, this time as a community member, was truly a blessing. This tour was originally going to be in Colombia, but it was canceled due to unfortunate circumstances. So, to ensure there was still a tour, the symphonic band director, Dr. Pamela Bustos, conducted this tour, in lieu of the Colombia Tour,” Wilson said.
She said, “About 35 symphonic and jazz band members went on the tour, with an additional 2-3 members being audience members for our concerts. My favorite parts of the trip were visiting the castle ruins and walking around the cities and towns we've visited, soaking up the history and culture of the two countries.”
Musically, she is very well rounded. She played the bass guitar throughout middle and high school for jazz band, and she still plays it every once in a while. “In college, when I was a music major, I learned to play upright bass, clarinet, oboe, bassoon and saxophone. I also know how to play piccolo, too, but I don't play it nearly as well as I do with the flute,” she said.
Wilson recently accepted a new job up in Superior and will be working around her new work schedule to assure she can still participate with the band.
She said, “The intention that I have is to rehearse and perform with the UWS symphonic band more often, when I move later in August. The wonderful thing about the UW music department is that they always welcome community members to perform with the bands. In addition to the UWS band, I had the opportunity to perform with the UW Barron County Communiversity band as well. Music does not have to end after you graduate high school and college; music can be a part of your life forever.”