Symphonic Band Comes to Difficult Decision

By: Sabrina Wu
By: Sabrina Wu

It's a situation no one would envy, paying thousands of dollars in advance for a trip and then having a serious epidemic break out at one's intended destination.

The conductor of the Wausau Symphony and Band, however, says that what made the ordeal even more stressful is community members who jumped to conclusions about how the band was handling the situation.

Band members have been deluged with phone calls and emails after word came out that the band was still considering going ahead with travel plans after the World Health Organization urged against visits to Beijing China, a stop on the group's itinerary. In reality, members were still in the decision-making process, not wanting to make one ruling for an entire group of 60.

Eighty-three had paid a collective $65,000 in airfare and travel fees. Twenty-three members had already backed out of the trip by April 23, but the band was still hoping Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome would be contained.

The conductor says the group had been planning the trip for over a year and was buying as much time as they could before making a final decision.

It finally came to a point where the group had to make a definite commitment to Chinese promoters who would spend money on advertising the band's performances. With information about the situation still uncertain, the band decided not to go.

"Who could live with themselves if they came back to Wausau and infected friends and family members?" Conductor Ted Aarrestad asked.

One of the main motivations for even considering the trip at this time was Northwest Airlines' adherence to policy saying it could only extend the delegation's departure date until mid-December. The airline maintained that the group had given up any ability to get its money back when it agreed to the discounted rate last November.

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