More than just a competition for school band

Grateful: Abdul Karim (centre) presenting team jackets to St Joseph’s School Band. Looking on (from left) are Ling, Band Parents president Zuraimi Sabki and Dr Sim.

KUCHING: St Joseph’s School (SJS) Band’s upcoming trip to the United States is an opportunity not only to compete but to improve their talents and participate in a cultural exchange with their American hosts.

SJS Band adviser Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian said the two-week trip would see the 73-member band be hosted by an American high school band besides taking part in the US Bands Yamaha Cup.

“This is not just a competition, it also involves cultural exchange. We hope it will enrich the lives of the 73 students and be something they will remember forever.

“It’s also important because we not only want to be good locally, we want to be good internationally. We want to build up their talents so that they can do us proud,” he said after the presentation of team jackets from Brooke Dockyard to the band at SMK St Joseph here on Sunday.

Dr Sim said the band started planning the US trip last year after winning the German Open Championships in 2013.

He thanked the parents for working hard to raise funds as well as the state and federal governments for providing grants.

“Without their assistance this would not be possible. When we planned the budget last year the exchange rate was 3.3 (to the US dollar), by the time we are ready to go it has become 4.3.

“So we are very grateful for this opportunity,” he said.

Brooke Dockyard chairman Datuk Abang Abdul Karim Tun Abang Openg, who handed over the jackets, said it was a great honour for the SJS Band to be invited to participate in the competition.

“For us in the corporate sector, we are proud to be able to support them,” he said.

The band, accompanied by 20 parents and teachers, will leave for New York today.

They will be among 55 bands competing in the Yamaha Cup at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Sept 26.

“We are the first school band from outside the US to be invited to take part in this annual national high school band competition,” SJS Band director June Ling said.

She said the band would be hosted by the Kennesaw Mountain High School band in Atlanta during a four-day band camp, where they will refine the drill show for the competition with instructors from Drum Corp International.

“The Kennesaw Mountain school band, which has about 200 members, will provide the venue for the camp and homestay with their families for our members,” she added.

“We hope we will not only be enriched by their hospitality but will also enrich them with our gratitude, friendship and culture,” she said.

In addition, Ling said the band would attend a college football game at Gillette Stadium and sit with the Massachusetts University band.

The members will also visit places of interest in Boston and New York during the trip.

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