Ohio Schools’ Walnut Hills High School At Carnegie Hall

New York City’s Carnegie Hall is world renowned for hosting the world’s best artists — all of whom have considered it an honor and privilege to perform there. In April 2007, the Hall will host the National Invitational Band and Orchestra Festival.

The festival is sponsored by Field Studies International, allowing high school musical groups from across the country to compete using a recorded audition tape. This year, 18 groups have won the coveted opportunity to perform on the stage at Carnegie Hall. Frank Battisti of the New England Conservatory, Craig Kirchhoff of the University of Minnesota, and H. Robert Reynolds of the University of Southern Carlifornia will judge the event, providing recorded comments and a recording of the performance for each musical group. The wind ensemble at Ohio schools ‘ Walnut Hills in Cincinnati is one of the 18 groups selected for the final competition at Carnegie Hall.

While most Ohio schools were cutting back on their music programs, the Ohio schools’ Walnut Hills was maintaining its 11 bands. Kerry Kruze, music teacher at the Ohio schools’ Walnut Hills, believes that students thrive on the arts. The participants in the wind ensemble play with amazing precision and brilliant sound, according to Kruze, proving that music is not just for kids whose parents can afford it.

Besides the ensemble, the Ohio schools’ Walnut Hills has a choir, an orchestra, a band, a jazz ensemble, and a steel drum program. Walnut Hills clearly pushes their music programs the same as their academics and their music programs continue to grow.

The ensemble ranks as one of the best bands in the nation with 69 musicians. It is the top performing band of the 11 musical groups from the school and competes at the highest level of competitions, sponsored by the Ohio Music Education Association. The Ohio schools’ ensemble practices in the basement of the school, an aging accommodation with a leaky roof.

The Ohio schools’ group will be playing four college-level pieces, one of which is Leonard Bernstein’s difficult Overture to “Candide”. It has taken a lot of hard work and practice for the ensemble, who plans to be perfecting their performance right up until they leave for New York.

After they received the invitation to compete at Carnegie Hall in October, the cost of transportation and accommodations while in New York became a problem. The ensemble members and their families sold pizzas, magazines and other fundraising activities for four months. In the end, the Ohio schools’ group had raised $1,000 per person plus extra funds from the band’s booster group.

While in New York, the ensemble and their chaperones will see a Broadway show, visit museums, take in a jazz show at Birdland jazz club, and see the sights of the city.

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