When talking to a musician, don’t make the mistake of asking him or her what the big deal is about playing Carnegie Hall in New York.
“What’s not the big deal?” Anna Noel, a clarinetist with the Kamloops-Thompson School District’s District Honour Band, asked Friday. “It’s the thing to do.”
Joining her for the American High School Honours Performance Series at Carnegie Hall — a venue that’s considered the pinnacle of artistic achievement — are fellow clarinetists Chris Brown, Sara Chitsaz and Kaitlyn Schafer of the District Honour Choir.
They are the latest local students who have had a chance to perform at the hall in recent years. Opportunities to join the honours series go only to the highest-rated high school performers from across North America.
The secondary students were nominated by their respective teachers toward the end of the last school year. Noel is in Grade 12 at Sa-hali, Brown and Chitsaz Grade 11 at South Kamloops, and Schafer Grade 12 at Beattie School of the Arts
Each recorded and submitted an audition CD in June. Then they waited, said Schafer. And waited.
Hurricane Sandy, which devistated portions of the Northeastern U.S. last fall, delayed word on whether or not the quartet from Kamloops would attend. Noel said the greenlight for the Carnegie Hall concert arrived in time for Halloween. The band music arrived last week.
“We were supposed to get it in early December,” said Chitsaz.
Not that the students are complaining. They’re not. In fact, they are filled with nervousness and excitement.
“I’m fine until I start practicing. Then I get nervous,” said Noel.
Brown said the music they perform includes a mix of slow and fast pieces that range in complexity.
“It’s a nice variety,” he said.
The students will spend about six days in the Big Apple, a trip that won’t be all work. Noel said they take in a Broadway play, sightsee and stay at a classy hotel.
“They want to give us the whole experience,” she said.
Playing Carnegie Hall comes with a cost. Band members pay $1,699 and choir $1,599. Airfare isn’t included. Schafer said the students had to come up with the money themselves.