The Plant City High School band has been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall, but the price tag is steep.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
Practice, practice, practice.
It’s an old joke — practice, practice, practice — but it’s also a sentiment Joshua Blair, the band director at Plant City High School, knows to be true. Next April, Blair’s students will make the trip to the Big Apple to perform at the National Invitational Band and Orchestra Festival at Carnegie Hall — one of the most prestigious concert venues on the planet.
And in this case, one of the most expensive.
The cost for the band to take the trip to perform at Carnegie Hall is estimated at $1,500 per kid, not including meals. The dollar amount for the five-day trip is tacked on to the annual band fees of just under $500, which doesn’t include the costs of instruments for students who choose to buy their own.
At least 50 to 60 students will perform at Carnegie Hall, Blair said. All must pay their own way.
“We sent in recordings (to the festival),” Blair, who took over as director in 2015, said. “We submitted them, and they came back with high scores. There are maybe 16 schools total from around the country performing.”
To the best of Blair’s knowledge, this is the first time the band has been invited to perform at the concert hall. Only three or four of his students have even been to New York. When Blair told them they had been accepted to the festival, they were surprised.
“The first thing they asked was, ‘Will it be snowing there?’” Blair said.
The band found out that they had been accepted to the festival on March 10, giving them just over one year to raise
money and prepare for their 26-minute performance on April 15, 2017. Though it’s the first time he’s taking Plant City’s band, this will be Blair’s third time attending the festival.
Blair hopes the community will step forward to help with fundraising.
Annually, the band holds two fundraisers to help cover costs. The band hosts a color guard competition to raise funds and sells strawberry pie and cheesecake at a booth at the Florida Strawberry Festival.
“We need $20,000 dollars worth of instruments next year,” Blair said. “The band is growing fast. We need horns, we need trumpets. It gets up there.”
Extra fundraisers will be needed for the New York trip.
“I would like to find companies to sponsor students,” Blair said. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of the students.”
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