USA Music Tour April 2018
Over the April school holidays, a group of 82 students and teachers travelled to America for an amazing two weeks of musical experiences. The Big Band, String Ensemble, Orchestra and Wind Orchestra travelled to LA, Macomb, Chicago and NYC to perform at Disneyland, Western Illinois University and Carnegie Hall. It was a fantastic experience for all involved. The following are excerpts from student blogs over the trip. For more blogs, vlogs and photos, visit the tour blog site: chsmusicdept.tumblr.com
Disneyland - Saturday 14th April
Well, I guess today was definitely another great but busy day. Today the weather is extremely clear with big blue skies and felt close to a nice late spring day in Australia.
By 8:40 we left for backstage Disney, where Kimmi helped wind orchestra to settle in and get ready for our open performance! Kimmi seemed to have a system to place every single one of 240,168 stones in her zen garden (which was just a rock pit), but when somebody steps into it, she would know straight away. I’m sure she uses that phrase to all her groups, that she starts to overly become protective of her garden.
The biggest performance on the Disney stage was probably Sofia’s girl in 14G - she absolutely nailed it. The crowd went wild! The rest of the day was spent in Disney California Adventure Park. California Adventure was really peaceful and calm, probably because everyone’s in Disneyland, but I had great fun! In my opinion the Guardian of the Galaxy attraction was ‘the best’ ride in the adventure park. Basically, you sit in a cage supposed to be an elevator and be dropped from the highest point of the building, about 30-40 metres, and all the bags fly up and down.
Today was super fun!
WIU - Tuesday 17th April
Today we went to the fabled Western Illinois University, where we finally got to visit Dr Mike Fansler. This occasion was especially significant for me, as it was the 3rd time I was able to meet him throughout my time at CHS. I first met Dr Fansler in year 8 at Collaroy, where we worked on my favourite piece back then as well as now, Colonial Song by Percy Grainger.
Once we had arrived at the Uni, the band unloaded and entered a hall as big as the Chatswood Concourse’s main hall. From there, members set up and got ready for what would be my final rehearsal with Dr Mike Fansler. Being able to rehearse Colonial Song one last time with Mike really brought back memories and reminded me of my journey with the CHS WO; from sitting from 3rd chair looking up at my section leader, to leading my very own French Horn section in 1st chair.
After the rehearsal with Mike, Big Band members dispersed off into the uni to have workshops with tutors of their respective instruments. Throughout this workshop I was exposed to the style of education at WIU.
After the workshop, the band was able to view the University Orchestra rehearse with Mr Staines and perform. Mr Staines was able to conduct his favourite piece, El Camino Royale, with Mike’s band and the grin that stuck on his face after his performance was priceless. The band then performed one of the Mislanka symphonies in honour of his work.
The day ended with our performances and some final farewells. I was able to shake Mike’s hand for what I believe will be one of my last times. I told Mike that this was my 3rd time working with him, which I took great pride in, as many students found only 1 or 2 opportunities to work with Mike. He acknowledged my musical perseverance and effort and I took a photo with him along with the other year 12s.
Chicago - Thursday 19th April
After waking up and enjoying a terrible hotel buffet breakfast, we hopped on to the bus and went to the Chicago Field Museum. The main area was two storeys high with exhibits left and right. After looking at the beautiful sights of mummies, we ventured around, learning about how we’re all supposedly descended from fish and how giraffes are distant relatives of snails or something of the like. After eating in the grand hall of the museum we got back out to the bus and found a nice spot next to Lake Michigan to die in the sweltering 30 degree (Fahrenheit) heat and watch the microscopic waves break. The rest of the day was alright but not really my cup of tea because I don’t particularly enjoy clothes shopping but I’m sure everyone else loved it.
We ate the classic Chicago deep dish pizza that looked more like lasagne, and each piece was the size of about three of our Aussie pizza slices. After our fill of cheese and tomato sauce, we went up the Hancock Building and had a great view of Chicago and the lake. Some brave souls did the tilt over the edge, although it was a bit overrated.
Overall we got a great taste of Chicago and some interesting history lessons on the city too.
Carnegie Hall - Tuesday 24th April
It was the 24th April, the day we were waiting for, our performance at Carnegie Hall. That day was the busiest day for all of the schools that were performing. The performance was split into two sections, the afternoon and the evening concert. I was excruciatingly anxious and nervous since the string ensemble was the first group to start the whole performance at the afternoon concert.
Like every morning, everyone all came down to the lobby to go get breakfast at 8:00 am and then came back around 9:00 am to the hotel. The members of the strings had around 30~40 minutes to get changed into their performing uniform and head to Carnegie Hall.
Even though the performance was roughly around 12:00 pm we got to the waiting room, then unpacked our instruments and went on stage for a sound check. During the sound check I couldn't believe that I was on the stage of Carnegie Hall where all these famous professional musicians had performed on.
After the sound check we went back into the waiting room. As minutes went by I could feel my heart beating faster and faster. By the time we were to perform, I was super nervous.
On the stage in front of the audience, I was really scared that I would make a mistake in one of the pieces, but as soon as the piece started I wasn’t nervous anymore. I was savouring every moment on the stage.
I was having too much fun on the stage that it all went so quickly.
This was the best experience in my life.