Clovis High Orchestra and Jazz Band goes to New York

The symphony orchestra received the opportunity of a lifetime and gave an afternoon performance at Carnegie Hall. (Courtesy of Clovis High school/The Goose Facebook)

Clovis High’s symphony orchestra and jazz band recently traveled to New York and had a memorable experience.

While parts of the trip included taking in famous Big Apple sites –– including Ellis Island, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Liberty Island –– the orchestra and band went primarily to experience immersive music events and participate in the 2019 New York International Music Festival. Students had the chance to workshop with composers and perform in the famed Carnegie Hall.

On Sunday, April 14, the symphony orchestra spent some time in a music clinic with the world renowned composer Johan de Meij, who is known for the “Lord of the Rings” symphonies. The students also spent time making new friends with the Agape Concert Band of Cayey from Puerto Rico, and the band’s director Joel Zamora.

Later in the day, Clovis High’s jazz band performed in concert with Grammy Award winner Randy Brecker at the Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn, N.Y. According to Esmeralda Rocha Lozano, Director of the Instrumental Music Program at Clovis High, “Our students performed with one of the best trumpet players in the world. The exchange between the ensemble and soloist [Brecker] was extraordinary.”

The following two days involved performing at known locations around New York City.

On Monday, April 15, the jazz band and symphony orchestra performed at Bryant Park in the morning, and the string orchestra took on the Madison Avenue Atrium in the afternoon. Rocha explained, “We performed for New York locals as well as tourists from around the world. At the end, we had many listeners come to us with tears in their eyes, letting us know how moved they were by our performance. It was truly touching and powerful.”

Tuesday, April 16 featured the symphony orchestra’s performance at Carnegie Hall. Students had morning sound checks, followed by an afternoon performance at the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage. On the orchestra’s performance, Rocha said, “The looks on all of our faces after we played the first musical statement during our morning sound check was unlike anything we have every experienced before. The acoustics in that hall were phenomenal and we all paused for a moment when we realized we really were in Carnegie Hall! It was magical from beginning to end.”

The students also attended an evening showcase concert at the venue.

On the last full day in New York, jazz band students enjoyed a workshop with jazz clinician Tatum Greenblatt while non-jazz and string musicians had the morning off. The last night in the city featured a Broadway showing of “Aladdin.”

Rocha highlighted moments from the trip: “The most memorable thing that happened was exchanging music and culture with our new friends, the Puerto Ricans! They are the most beautiful, energetic, grateful people you will ever encounter. They embraced us and we embraced them. Their energy, kindness, and gratitude was unlike anything we have ever experienced in our lives.”

“This is what makes music so memorable,” she continued, “no matter where you go, regardless of any language barriers, the one thing that brings people together is music.”