The Juneau-Douglas High School Wind Ensemble is planning for the spring break of a lifetime.
The student-musicians are among six bands selected to perform at the New York Wind Band Festival at Carnegie Hall on March 24 through 26.
"It's a great honor for the students. I think it's an excellent experience for them and probably one they will remember for the rest of their lives," music teacher Ken Guiher said. "I can see students bouncing their grandchildren on their knees saying, 'I remember back when I played in Carnegie Hall in the band.'"
"It's a very big honor and we're all very excited but also it's a lot of work for us," said Tristan Hovest, a senior trumpet player. "On top of all the work that we need to prepare for playing, we're going to have a lot of work to do fundraising."
Guiher said the band needs a lot of community support because the price tag for attending the festival will be hefty. Fifty students will travel to New York City with expenses ranging from $1,500 to $1,700 per student, he said.
"Financially, this is going to be a pain, but it's going to be the experience of a lifetime so we really don't want to miss out on it," said Drew Akstin, a junior bass trombone player.
Guiher said being selected to participate in the festival was very unexpected. An application was sent to the festival last school year, but the band didn't turn in a sample of music until this year when there was only one slot remaining. Guiher said he was excited JDHS was the final band selected and happy that it happened to coincide with spring break.
"We always try to travel during that spring vacation so the students don't miss any more school than they absolutely have to," he said.
The students will get more from the experience than simply playing at Carnegie Hall. The band will also perform a concert in Central Park and will have a clinic to prepare for the big venue.
Hovest said the band will be practicing a lot to make sure they are ready for the big show at Carnegie Hall.
"We're gonna practice all the time and have extra practices outside of school to prepare for it," he said.
Guiher said the students will be busy from now until the festival because many of them are involved in other activities. He said he has band members involved in National Honor Society, student council and various sports.
"These are very well-rounded students," Guiher said. "They are probably going to have to make some sacrifices here and there in order to get to my rehearsals and to get to the extra practices that will be necessary."
Drummer and percussionist Panah Mehrabad, a senior, said the music they will perform is very difficult and takes a lot of time and attention to play correctly.
"We're pretty much required to practice two hours or three hours a day just to be good enough to play that music," he said.
Mehrabad said he is excited about having the opportunity to perform at the festival.
"I've been looking up the Carnegie Hall pictures on the Internet because I've never been there. It's pretty nice, even empty," he said.
"How many people get to play at Carnegie Hall? It's probably one of the most famous venues in the world for performance," Guiher said.
Fundraising is already being coordinated, including a "band-a-thon" scheduled for Jan. 13. The endurance performance will last anywhere between 12 and 24 hours to help pay for the travel costs.
"It will be nonstop music with various ensembles and various solos from the group," Guiher said. "That will be something that we hope everyone will look for and come and support us with."
Akstin said the community should be on the lookout for band students doing fundraising projects.
"If you see a band student, buy a calendar," he said.
Guiher said the band will make Juneau proud of their performance at the festival.
"I think we will represent our community well at Carnegie Hall," he said.
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