JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – The River Trail Middle School Orchestra made good on an old invitation May 7 when the group performed in a music festival at New York’s Carnegie Hall. The performance came five years after the school was invited back to the famed concert venue after a performance in 2012.
That concert was such a success, organizers with Carnegie Hall asked them back the following year. But the school’s event schedule simply didn’t match up with Carnegie Hall’s busy performance schedule, and a satisfactory date couldn’t be set until this year.
River Trail principal Dawn Melin said thanks to the school administration and the community, the students were given a second chance at an opportunity of a lifetime.
“They asked us a year afterwards to come back and perform at Carnegie Hall as part of a banner orchestra festival…it’s mostly all high school,” said Amos Liu, the school’s orchestra instructor. “We’re the only ones at this recent one that were middle school.”
For this year’s performance, the students played “Themes from the Moldau” by Bedrich Smetana, “Lullaby” by Willam Hofeldt and “Il Re Pastore” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Involvement in the festival also included rehearsals, three nights in a hotel, sightseeing excursions and a Broadway show. The orchestra students saw “Hello Dolly,” starring Bernadette Peters and Victor Garber.
“The whole thing is through World Strides Festival which are a very big touring company for educational tours,” Liu said. “They also do a lot of music performance type tours as well. So, they put the whole thing together and part of it is that they get a Broadway show for us to watch.”
On the particular week of their performance, snowy conditions were expected to hit New York. Although there was only three inches predicted, the orchestra has had a history of snowed out performances and cancellations. Fortunately for them, it didn’t snow. Liu was relieved that the performance was able to carry on according to schedule, because forecasters had called for snow during the week. The break in the weather also allowed students an opportunity to enjoy the city’s landmarks and hotspots. They even got a taste of local art.
“They really enjoyed Times Square and walking around that area as well,” Liu said. “One thing, as a teacher, I will say that was very memorable was we were walking down and moving kids down the street and there was a street performer…I really enjoyed seeing that because that is one of things we do teach as music teachers is to support other types of musicians out there. So it was nice to see kids doing that on their own.”