Huggins, AU make music in China

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 17, 2012

One of Andalusia’s own made a nearly 8,000-mile journey from Auburn to Beijing, China, last month and performed across the country with Auburn’s symphonic band.

Joshua Huggins, a 2009 Andalusia High School graduate, and junior music education major at AU, joined his fellow band members on a “trip of a lifetime.”

“There were about 80 of us that went on the trip,” he said. “We visited Beijing, Jinan City, Xuzhou and Shanghai.”

Huggins said the band performed seven times while on their trip, and also got to sightsee.

“The major landmarks we visited were Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China,” he said. “The Great Wall of China was the absolutely most amazing thing I have ever seen. Just knowing that it was man-made, made it even more overwhelming.”

Huggins’ favorite part of the trip wasn’t seeing the sites, he said.

“Other than these major historical sites, we were able to go to an elementary school and perform for the students, and some of their students performed for us on their Chinese instruments.

“That was probably the most entertaining and meaningful activity we did,” Huggins said. “After the students went back to their classrooms, we were able to go visit them, and we passed out Auburn stickers. They were so excited about getting a simple sticker.”

Huggins said the band also visited a local college, where their ensemble performed.

“It was made up of instruments mainly known to the Chinese culture, but there were some recognizable instruments such as a bamboo flute and string bass,” he said.

The most amazing performance was at Shandong University, Huggins said.

“There were approximately 4,000 students in attendance at our outdoor concert and afterward the students wanted to take pictures with us,” he said. “The big hit of the group was the blonde hair, blue-eyed people. They were absolutely amazed by them. I know I took about 50 pictures with people after the concert and there were some from our group that took well over 100.

“The most amazing thing was that most of them were able to communicate with us because of the English classes they have taken over the years,” he said.

Huggins said the “food over there was very interesting.”

“I am a very picky eater, especially when it comes to pig ears, cow tongue and fish that stare back at me,” he said. “Needless to say, I ate rice every day.”

Huggins said if he had the opportunity, he would definitely go back to Shanghai.

“We were only there for a day and it seemed like an amazing city to explore,” he said. “I can definitely say that I have never traveled anywhere like this with the band. I have had the opportunity to go to most of the SEC stadiums with the AUMB, but that is the extent of my travels with the band.”

Huggins said after he completes his time at Auburn, he hopes to attend graduate school and earn a masters in higher education or administration.

He has been in the AU Marching Band for three years, and will be the mellophone section leader next season. He has also participated in the concert band, symphonic band, basketball pep band, orchestra and jazz band.

Huggins also serves as an ambassador for the music department and will we a Camp War Eagle counselor this summer for all incoming freshman.

He is the son of Rick and Sandy Neal of Andalusia.