KUCHING: St Joseph’s School (SJS) Band will add another feather to its cap when it competes in the US Bands Yamaha Cup at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey this month.
It will be the only band from outside the United States to take part in the annual competition for American high school marching bands.
The 73-member band will depart on Wednesday for two weeks in the United States, culminating in the competition on Sept 26.
They will spend some time in Boston and New York, as well as a four-day band camp in Atlanta where they will be hosted by the Kennesaw Mountain High School.
“It’s going to be an adventure. The trip will be the right mix of leisure, hard work and competition,” SJS Band programme coordinator Jonathan Fox told Sarawak Metro.
He said while the band liked to participate in competitions, it was never just about competing or winning. Working hard to achieve high standards, enjoying performing and learning from the experience were equally important.
The band had been practising for the past few months and gave a preview performance of their Rach 2 drill show for family members and supporters last Saturday.
“The most exciting thing to me was seeing some of the band members in tears after the performance. They’re realising that the hard work is worth it and that they love the feeling of performing.
“It also tells me that they’re going to keep working hard,” Fox said.
On the drill show, which is based on Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 2, he said it was a difficult piece with a lot of virtuoso parts.
“We deliberately made it difficult for several reasons. First, the judges will appreciate it and the inherent demand built into the piece.
“Next, for the quality of the music. It allows us to be more true to the composer’s intention while being enjoyable for the audience at the same time.
“Third, I don’t like to take the easy route. I want the band to finish learning the piece, keep practising and peak at competition time.
“Finally, this is a school. It’s more rewarding and educational for the band members to work hard at goals that are seemingly unreachable at the beginning.”
SJS Band director June Ling said the band members, whose ages ranged from 12 to 18 years, would have the opportunity to make friends and experience new cultures on the US trip.
“We want them to learn to see beyond our country and to interact with other people, linked by music and friendship. We appreciate the hospitality extended to us from the other side of the world and a project like this makes us feel proud in the goodness of humanity.
“We hope the exchange of friendship and culture will be enriching not only for us but for our hosts,” she said.
She also said the band aimed to perform to a high standard in order to do justice to the drill show and music which had been arranged especially for the band.
“Our training is so intensive because we want to help the band members do their very best,” she said.