Crestview HS Big Red Machine Wind Ensemble Performs at Carnegie Hall

Over Spring Break, Crestview High Schools Band’s Wind Ensemble had the privilege to perform in front of a full house on the Ronald O. Pereiman Stage of Isaac Stern Auditorium in the world famous Carnegie Hall of New York City for the tenth annual National Youth Concert.  Bands, orchestras, and choirs from across the nation audition, are selected, and perform each spring.  Ensembles and their soloists come from across the United States to perform as a part of the National Youth Concert performances.

Being selected to perform is an honor and the band’s performance history, presentation of musical talents, and reputation factored into the selection process. 

“We decided eighteen months or so ago to pursue the opportunity to play in Carnegie Hall,” said Band Director Jody Dunn.  “We submitted a tape of our performances from last year and they accepted us and then they invited us to come play.  It is a very exclusive venue.  They really based our selection on our musical performances and our recent history.  The fact that we travel well and we kind of have a reputation, they can look for references.”

“The Crestview High School Wind Ensemble’s excellent musical presentation exhibited superb musical qualities that will certainly lead to a wonderful performance in the world’s most famous concert hall,” said Dick Ciardy, Executive Director of Choice Music Events.

Before the ensemble played their first note on stage, Dunn told the students to stop and look where they were. 

“They all looked around,” said Dunn.  “You cannot help but to be flooded by the history of the place.  As a conductor, I am standing stage where Bernstein conducted and where all the heroes of mine have been.  It was one of those moments that both for me professionally and for the students, they will never forget.  It just shows what kids can do.  What amazing things they can accomplish.  Here in this county we are blessed with a whole bunch of those kids that do such amazing things in all of our schools.”

Mayor David Cadle, who directed the band for 29 years before retiring from teaching and running for office, joined Dunn and assistant director Charlie Andersen on the Carnegie Hall conductor's podium for some of the performances.  The students performed works by Bryant, Wagner/Cailliet, Rimsky-Korsakov, Grainger, Boysen and Fillmore as part of their performance.

To prepare for the performance in Carnegie Hall, Meagan Clark, Band Vice-President, said they just tried to “realize the gravity of what we were doing and realize that that is not an opportunity that we will probably ever get again unless we do music professionally.”

To say that this group of students is close and supportive of each other is an understatement.

“This band never needs any motivation, we really all motivate each other,” said Chancer Teel, Band President.  “This band is so much like a family and a lot of that is because of the way Mr. Dunn teaches us.  I have met a lot of people from All State and their band programs are not like ours in the way their students interact.  It is not the same.”

“It is okay if we mess up,” said Koji Tilley, Senior Representative.  “It is all about the experience.  Our mistakes are part of the experience.  The whole thing teaches us as human beings that we are all people.  It is the fact that we get to share the experience at Carnegie Hall, one of the most renowned halls in the world.  That’s what makes it truly incredible.”

“Everyone loves what they do here,” said Clark.  “There is not anybody who is being forced to be here, they want to be here, and I think that is what makes the biggest difference.”

When asked what his favorite memory of the trip was, Koji Tilley, Senior Representative, said, “Our percussion section gets along really well, and after the performance in Carnegie our whole section just got up and gave each other a giant hug.  We just we like performing together and are going to miss each other next year.  The fact that I was able to share the experience with my fellow section means a lot.”

“My favorite memory from New York was sitting on the stage at warm up at Carnegie Hall not even our actual performance,” said Clark.  “I was just sitting there looking at the concert hall and seeing how beautiful it all was and that is when I realized the actual significance of what we were doing.  I knew it was special and that not a lot of people, especially high school bands, get to do that but what we have here is something really, really special.  Mr. Dunn always talks about it is okay to not play if you are crying and I looked over and there were three people in my section not playing because they were crying.  Carnegie Hall was a very moving experience.”

Foster Lux, Drum Major, said her favorite memory was “playing Amazing Grace on the USS Intrepid. Everyone was in tears.”

The entire Big Red Machine traveled with the Wind Ensemble to New York City.  On the way, they made a quick stop in Washington D.C. where they visited all the museums and memorials, worshiped at the National Cathedral, participated in a wreath laying ceremony, and took a night time illuminated tour of the city.

“Every time I take a group to D.C., I watch, because we tell them this is the National Cemetery, for example at Arlington, and we tell them all these rules,” said Dunn.  “It is fun to see that they are excited to be on the bus; they are kids having a great time.  But as soon as we pull up and get off the bus, they know how to behave.  They don’t make a sound.  They are so respectful.”

On March 22, Teel and Foster Lux, drum major, had the honor to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

“Being from a military area where so many of our friends and family members have served in the military, it was such a huge honor to do something like that,” said Teel.

“My goal is to make life long consumers of music out of these students so they will enjoy all kinds of music,” said Dunn.  “I hope they can play their instrument in church, in city orchestras, and civic bands their whole life.”