The exchange between Sister Cities helps foster understanding of cultures, world history, and languages. Cologne and Indianapolis have developed a thriving partnership over the years, exchanging firefighters, mayors, soccer teams, and more. Three years ago, a jazz group from Cologne under the direction of bassist Andre Nendza came to Indianapolis for a series of concerts and visits encountering some of the regional jazz legends such as David Baker and Duncan Schiedt as well as learning about the rich Indiana music culture. This year we finally get to reciprocate the exchange by sending a group of three outstanding young musicians under my leadership to Cologne. The group is scheduled to travel in Germany during the last week of June. They will share Indiana jazz history through concerts and presentations as well as experience Cologne culture. Some of the highlights include a concert in the City Hall of a neighboring community with a historic Bosendorfer grand piano, observing the WDR Radio Big Band rehearse with Danilo Perez, recording in collaboration with Cologne musicians, and a tour of the city.
Such an exchange is bound to create memories of a lifetime. My hometown’s sister city was Chambery in France. In 8th Grade I got to spend two weeks there with a French host family and a group of peers. I experienced the all-day school system – in Germany school is out by lunch time – the french mentality of laissez-faire, and most of all learned how there are many alternative ways of life, traditions, and philosophies and that the only barrier for our life options are our own imagination. Ultimately, this opportunity to expand my horizon allowed me to dream beyond my small hometown and build a career in a different country and follow my dreams of becoming a jazz musician.
I’m excited to facilitate a similar opportunity for these young musicians. Quinn Sternberg on bass grew up in Bloomington and just completed his degree at IU and will move to New Orleans in the Fall. Matt Riggen on trumpet is an Indianapolis native and is also completing his double major this year in Biology and jazz. And Josh Roberts is a rising young drum talent from Branson, MO who finished his degree at IU a year ago and took a job on campus to bridge his next step of pursuing a Masters degree at the New School in New York City. Hence all three are on the brink of a new chapter in their lives and ready to create unique career paths. The expanded network and horizon will shape their path in new directions.
The only missing link in the adventure is of course the usual little detail – money. Cologne is sponsoring our accommodations there and we have some support for the van rental and travel in Germany but we need to raise funds for the flights. The resources of the Indianapolis Sister City Committee are extremely limited and they can’t match the Cologne support. We’re hoping to get some supporters through a crowdfunding campaign with rewards such as homemade mustard, German cooking lessons, German beer, piano lessons, Cologne souvenirs and so much more. Consider joining us – the campaign will be live by Wednesday, May 11 at this link. Any contributions will help make dreams come true for these young musicians and also demonstrate our open minds for cultural exchange – something that’s not a given in the current political climate.