The Olathe North High School Screamin’ Eagle Marching Band has performed at some prestigious locations over the years like the Music for All National Concert Festival in Indianapolis in 2015 and the Kansas Music Educators Association convention in Wichita in 2014 and 2016.
But none of the venues have been as legendary as the stage they are about to step foot on.
More than 120 members of the school’s wind ensemble and symphonic band will perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Sunday .
The musicians from Olathe North are one of two bands chosen through an audition process to perform a concert called “Wind Songs” at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage.
The performance is part of the Distinguished Concerts International New York concert series.
Olathe North band director Justin Love said he is thrilled that his students will get this amazing opportunity.
“I talked to the kids about all the people that have conducted and performed there,” Love said. “In my opinion, it’s one of the most famous concert stages in the world and they get to be a part of it which is really cool.”
The other band chosen to perform at Carnegie Hall on Sunday is from Kingwood High School in Kingwood, Texas. In a strange twist of fate, it’s a school that Love knows a lot about.
“Kingwood High School is my own alma mater,” Love said. “So, it’s a neat circumstance that it happened and not planned at all.”
The Olathe North band will play seven pieces of music during their nearly one-hour performance. Love has taken some songs from the band’s performances throughout the year and added others.
The band has been preparing for the performance since January. Sophomore trumpet player Katie Bailey said she has been spending about five hours a weekend practicing for the performance so that she will be at her best when she takes to the iconic stage.
“I feel ready for it,” Bailey said. “But Mr. Love always tells us we can do one more thing better. So, I will continue to strive toward that until the moment we are at Carnegie Hall.”
When they weren’t rehearsing, students were also busy raising money for the once-in-a-lifetime trip. Each member of the band had to raise a little more than $1,600 in order to make the journey to New York City.
Band members held mattress sales, helped sack groceries at a local supermarket and held a chili supper and silent auction in order to raise money. Senior Paola Ramirez even found a unique way to help save money for the trip.
Ramirez along with her mother and sisters made and sold homemade tamales as a fundraiser. Over the past few months, Ramirez estimates that they made more than 125 dozen.
“My mom always wanted to sell tamales, so we gave it a shot as a fundraiser,” Ramirez said. “I sold them through social media and to my classmates.”
That out-of-the-box thinking ultimately paid off, because now the senior flute player is on her way to New York City for the first time.
When students aren’t busy rehearsing and performing, they will also get the chance to play tourist in the Big Apple. Band members said they are looking forward to visiting the 9/11 Memorial Museum, going to the top of Rockefeller Center and taking in a Broadway musical.
This trip will be the first time a band from the Olathe School District has performed at Carnegie Hall.
Love said there has been a steady buzz of excitement among the students since the trip was announced last spring. But now the reality of the trip has set in.
“I can’t wait until they walk in the hall and play those first few notes,” Love said. “It’s going to be a really special moment for them.”