The Journey To Carnegie

Orchestra is preparing for the National Orchestra Festival in New York.


Sammy Schuster

Symphonic Orchestra bowing to the audience in the Orchestra Concert on Nov 10.

Kriti Dhaduvai, Staff Reporter

One would assume that the journey from St Louis to New York is a trifling 2 hours and 20 minutes, but for the PCH Orchestra, the journey spans a good couple of months. From the fundraising, to the concerts, to rehearsals and so much more, PCH Orchestra are well on track for the National Band and Orchestra Festival at Carnegie Hall in April.

The event is a festival competition, so all the schools that are performing had to compete and audition to be selected to play at the Hall. According to Alicia Bont, Orchestra Director, PCH had received a good score at a competition, which got them only one step of the way to performing at Carnegie. 

“It means that you have to travel the previous year, which we went to New Orleans and you have to get a high enough score in that competition to be able to participate,” Bont said. “Then you have to send in an audition tape and be selected. We did that last spring. And there were three schools that got chosen. So, we are one of three.”

Naturally, performing at the prestigious Carnegie Hall is a huge deal for the Parkway Central High school and community.  Sophomore Ava O’Bryan is looking forward to the concert experience. 

“It’s an experience to learn how to perform” . . .  “It’s all the places that we perform are slightly different. And so, just being able to experience all the different types of performances performing different pieces; it’s really good,” O’Bryan said.

However, performing isn’t the only thing these musicians will be doing. Aside from playing on the Carnegie stage, the students will get to take a tour of the historic Hall. Bont says that the students will also get to see some Broadway shows, go sightseeing and explore the city.

“We have reservations at some of the iconic New York restaurants, where there’s singers that will sing Broadway tunes . . . and we’re gonna go to the 9/11 Museum and go up in the World Trade Center and see the view of New York,” she said.

Sophomore, Dilara Goshtaiy is particularly eager to see the Broadway shows. 

“We’re gonna see a Broadway show there. It sounds like we’re gonna watch the Lion King and probably one other. So, I can’t wait for that. I just love theater performances. I’m so excited,” Goshtaiy said.

Sophomore Grace Sieber expressed her excitement for the sightseeing.

“We’ll probably have some time to just explore and walk around New York City. So, it’ll be fun,” Sieber said.

Similarly to the previous orchestra trip to New Orleans, O’Bryan believes that this trip will be a great learning experience.

“You get to learn. It’s a good chance to go out and see other places, see how they do music there. New Orleans is super big on jazz and New York, obviously, it’s gonna be super different from that,” she said.

Staying on theme with the NY trip, orchestra students have been learning all about New York, Carnegie Hall, and the significance of musical theater in American culture, throughout the course of the year.  Bont credits New York as a hub for immigration and cultural diffusion in America.

“I was going to start talking about the history of immigration and that New York was a center of that for such a long time in the history of our country,” Bont said. “It was a music and cultural center and still is. It was a hub where everything kind of traveled outside of New York but started there.”

Bont believes that this journey will teach students practical knowledge as well.

“We’re also going to learn about the current culture of New York — which it’s a very big city. So, we have to learn how to travel safely in a place like that, because it’s a lot different than just going anywhere in our neighborhood of Chesterfield,” she said.

As of now, around 56 out of 70 orchestra students are heading to New York. That’s 80 percent of the orchestra! Additionally, students are invited to bring their family as well. 

“There’s a lot of parents that are coming,” Bont said. “I think there’s about 50 parents that have communicated with me that they’re going to travel to New York and come to the concert, which is pretty wonderful.”

Goshtaiy’s parents are going to New York to see her and her sister play at Carnegie Hall.

“I think they’re really excited to see us play at such an amazing place. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, so they’re probably excited and hopefully proud,” Goshtaiy said.

O’Bryan’s mother, father, and 11-year-old brother are joining her for the trip. She believes they are especially excited to see the orchestra play at Carnegie. 

“They seem pretty excited. They’re very proud that we’re going to Carnegie. It’s a very big deal for us . . .” O’Bryan said. “I think my brother is excited too. He is only 11, but he’s pretty excited to go to Carnegie too.”

Bont says that they will start preparing for the concert in January or February. 

“We’ll pick the music out for the concert and start working on it, then. So, we’re getting closer,” Bont said.

The first step of preparation for the journey is to fundraise and collect money. 

“Right now we’re kind of gathering all of our donations. And then, each person has to pay all of their trip costs, which is about $1,500 by January,” Bont said.

As expected of an excursion of this scope, the cost of this trip will be pretty expensive. Bont aims to raise $10,000 for the whole journey and students will have to pay traveling expenses.

“We traveled to New Orleans last year. And we had $10,000 in our account to use for the trip when we went to New Orleans. That money had been raised over several years,” Bont explains. “So we’re trying to raise that much within just this one year. Or more, because New York is much more expensive than the New Orleans trip, and we’re flying.”

The more money that is collected for the trip, the less the students will have to pay out of their own pockets. For that reason, orchestra has been fundraising via their concerts and other fun events for the trip. For instance, there was a benefit concert at the Sheldon Concert Hall on Nov. 15, which hugely contributed to decreasing the cost.

Jonathan Chin, violinist in Symphonic Orchestra, playing violin at the PCH Orchestra Concert on Nov 10. All the proceeds from the concert went to the NY trip fund. Photo by Sammy Schuster.

“It was really a great fundraiser for us. We raised, I think, $7,000. So, that is going to really help the cost of our trip,” Bont said.

Students who aren’t in orchestra can also help them out for the trip. Senior Benny Wu says that attending the concerts is a great way to enjoy and contribute.

“Well, going to the concerts is definitely one. You get to enjoy listening to us play these amazing songs. Another one is that we do fundraisers sometimes and if students outside of orchestra could contribute to our fundraising events that can also help,” Wu said.

Additionally, attending the concerts will reduce the cost for each student going to New York, as the ticket sales from the concerts go directly into the fund.                      

“Definitely come to our concerts. We love to see you there. If we have any other fundraisers, I’m sure you’ll hear about them. Some of them are really fun. Also, you could just donate to the music department as a whole. We really appreciate that,” O’Bryan said.

Students can also help out their friends who are going to New York.

“If you have a friend that’s going and you have 5 or 10 bucks to give them for spending money in New York, that would be great,” Bont said.

Aside from attending the fundraisers and concerts, Bont says that there are also other ways to support Orchestra. 

“Mostly it’s just ‘support’ and coming to our concerts. It’s letting us know that you’re here for us, you’re supporting the program and all those good things,” she said.