Band, Choir and Orchestra take on NYC
Visiting everything from the bright lights of Broadway to the lush corners of Central Park, students from band, orchestra and choir will pack their bags to take their musical talents to New York City this spring break.
The music department plans a large trip every four years for students to expand their musical and cultural knowledge; this year, 148 students and nine chaperones will explore New York City Mar. 17-21.
“As a department we chose to travel to New York because we saw New York City as a culturally rich city that appreciates the arts, from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra to lots of Broadway shows,” choir director James Schiffer said. “Besides the cultural aspect of it, New York City is a place where lots of students haven’t been to, and it’s a great place for anyone to perform.”
Students will tour the United Nations headquarters, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Times Square, Central Park, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. They will also take a cruise around Manhattan and attend a Broadway musical. “It’s a very broad itinerary, and it’s very packed. We’ll be out from 8:30 a.m. to sometimes 10:30 p.m. We’ll be doing things all day long to crunch as much as we can into that trip,” band director Bernie Gerstmayr said. “The places we’ll be going to have lots of musical, cultural, historical, and social aspects. Kids will get to learn things for themselves instead of out of a text book. It’s a chance to perform and to be educated.”
Students who are participating in the trip have high hopes and can’t wait for their departure. “I’m most excited to see so many popular places in New York, but also because I’ve never really left Illinois. Plus, it’s sightseeing with my friends,” sophomore Sarah Flores said.
After their arrival in New York, students will perform in front of professional musicians and hundreds of other teenagers. “I’m kind of nervous about performing, but I know the adults who have organized everything are incredibly capable, and they’ll make sure everything goes smoothly,” senior Dana Meskan said.
Students will also have the opportunity to receive advice from leading performers and watch one of most famous living musicians in the world: cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who will make a guest appearance.
“I am most excited to watch the New York Philharmonic perform because the famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma is performing,” sophomore Alexis Yacobucci said. “It’s so cool to watch very talented musicians and learn from their performances.”
The trip to New York City costs about $1,400 per person—including meals, concerts, and sightseeing—and students worked diligently to cover the costs. “From August till now, there has been every sort of fundraiser: brochures, holiday wrapping, selling cookie dough and candy. Some kids even raised money through their part-time summer jobs. Students were able to raise $500 to $600 of the trip costs in just fundraising,” Gerstmayr said.
As a high school student, traveling to another state to perform with a big group of other kids can have a big impact. “I think this experience will shape me both as a person and a musician,” junior Cole Kelly said. “After all of the new places and events I will get to live through, I will be able to look back on them when I get older and remember how great of a time I had. I’ll never forget that the experience was all because of how I was a dedicated musician and how I never stopped doing what I loved.”
Teachers hope the students gain various musical and nonmusical lessons along the way. “We want the kids to perform outside of the regular community, and to get feedback from professional musicians that aren’t us—perhaps to hear the same words said in a different way, to react to other people in their age group, or to gain personal responsibility by keeping track of the money they are spending,” Gerstmayr said. “There’s a lot of adult life lessons that are being brought into this low-pressured group.”
As the final adjustments are being made, the trip to New York City is pushing students to commit to constant improvement in showcasing their talents. “I’d argue it’s every performer’s dream to perform in New York City, and now we get to do it as high school students,” senior Runal Patel said.