by Helen Newell ’18
On Friday, April 1st at six thirty in the morning, forty two students hefting instruments of all sizes groggily climbed aboard a large Concord Coach Limousine and began a weekend-long trip to New York City. The three days were to be spent both sight-seeing and competing in the Heritage Festival, where the LA Band students would play three songs for a panel of judges at the Riverside Church.
These students spent their first few hours in the city, spending their evening at Birdland, a jazz club that featured their house big band. The big band, including pianist Kenny Asher (composer of Rainbow Connection), performed many jazz tunes, including Krig Berg’s “The Chicken,” a tune Lincoln’s very own Jazz Big Band played at last year’s Jazz Night and Dessert Auction. After an incredible dining experience, the students travelled to the Top of the Rockefeller center to view the lit-up skyline of New York City, and also spent time shopping around Time’s Square. Late at night, they arrived at their hotel and slept soundly, nervously anticipating the next day’s competition.
On Saturday the band performed at the Heritage Festival at the historic Riverside Church for three judges, playing the tunes Festivo, Amazing Grace, and Washington Post. The Heritage Festival is held every weekend in multiple played in America, and various groups of musicians from all over the world come to play their ensemble music for the judges. The LA Wind Ensemble earned a gold rating, ending their final piece with broad, proud grins. Liz Matta, the conductor of the ensemble, remarked that those fifteen minutes concluded “the performance of our lives” and that the “feedback from the judges was extraordinary.”
After the performance the band took a quick detour, going to see the Broadway show Matilda, visiting the Grand Central Station, and then heading back to the festival’s Awards Ceremony, where the band accepted their award for scoring a Gold rating. Saxophone players Alex Enders and Barry Yan received individual Maestro Awards for their solo playing in Amazing Grace. To conclude their day, the band joined other bands, choruses, and orchestras on a Circle Line Cruise, to see the lit-up city, as well as the Statue of Liberty. After dancing and food, the band travelled back to their hotel for one more night.
On Sunday the band visited the 9/11 Memorial Reflection Pools and the One World Trade Center Observatory as their last sight of New York. The LA Wind Ensemble then headed home after an exhausting-but-satisfying weekend.
Helen Newell is a Lincoln Academy sophomore and an intern in the LA Communications Office.