Caribbean cruise is surprise gift for American Music Review
American Music Review Director William D. “Bill” Kisinger received a surprise Christmas gift from band alum Bob Kowalski, of Elgin, IL, who wrote a check for $20,000 so Kisinger could take his Purdue big band on a performance cruise with Royal Caribbean before he retires in June 2006.
“It’s important to me to give something back to the band because it was a big part of who I am today,” says Kowalski, a 1979 graduate who’s president of Creative Electronics and Software in South Elgin, IL.
Kowalski, a former clarinetist in the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band and various concert bands including the Purdue Symphonic Band, traveled to Venezuela and Canada under Kisinger. He served as head of the Purdue Bands’ clothing office and met his wife Kathy, also a clarinetist, through band. Presently, the couple’s daughter, Janet is a senior viola player in the Purdue Symphony Orchestra.
Even though Kowalski graduated before Kisinger created the American Music Review big band with singers in 1982, he specifically wanted his gift to fund one last trip for Kisinger who’s logged 37 years working with students and bands at Purdue and has traveled all over the globe with Purdue ensembles.
In the mid 1980s, the early heydays of the American Music Review, the ensemble went on four straight cruises on the Chandris line, now renamed Celebrity.
Changing times, and finances, made it impossible to mount the cruise performance tours until Kowalski’s gift.
“It caught me totally by surprise,” says Kisinger, “but it was a very pleasant surprise. It’s extremely gratifying that a band alum would step up and donate a huge sum so I could take one final trip with a band.”
The American Music Review, made up of 20 student musicians and four singers, will leave take a five-day cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, leaving May 7 out of Miami. The band will perform at least one show while at sea.
Things have changed a lot since the band made its initial cruises in the 1980s. “The ships had fewer amenities and were much smaller then, most had around 500 passengers. The Explorer of the Seas carries 3,100,” Kisinger says. “The other major difference between then and now is the RCL performance venue which has a fabulous stage complete with wireless microphones, state of the art sound system, laser lighting and an auditorium which comfortably seats about 2000.”
But some things remain the same. “Our group has a good time no matter what kind of ship we’re on,” says Kisinger who’s looking forward to showing off his current musicians. “It’s extremely rewarding to take this wonderful group because American Music Review is as good as it has ever been,” he says.
Anyone interested in going on the cruise can use their own travel agent, or on-line services, to book the five-day Royal Caribbean cruise aboard the Explorer of the Seas departing May 7, 2005. Purdue Bands will not be handling reservations. However, it is possible for AMR family and friends to book through www.starsatsea.com. By hitting the Royal Caribbean button at the top right of the screen, you can book directly with Royal Caribbean. The advantage of accessing RCL through starsatsea.com is that you will be automatically linked to AMR so you will be able to dine at the same seating as the group and will be able to take full advantage of any other opportunities offered.