All 84 members of the Santa Cruz High School band are set to join two choirs and three other bands selected to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York in March as part of the National Youth Choir and Instrument Music Festival. The band was chosen from applications submitted from across the United States.
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Santa Cruz High School’s band has been chosen to perform as part of a national music festival at Carnegie Hall on March 26 in New York.
All 84 members of the Santa Cruz High School band are set to join two choirs and three other bands selected to be part of the National Youth Choir and Instrument Music Festival. The band was chosen from applications submitted from across the United States.
Carnegie Hall is regarded as one of the most prestigious music venues in the world, hosting a variety of music legends from Judy Garland to the Beatles.
“It’s both exciting and a little bit terrifying. The students are really driving with a lot of intent to be the best they can be,” said band director Christy Latham. “All of the masters of classical music have had their music performed there — it’s an honorable place to be.”
This is the first time the Santa Cruz High School band will play at Carnegie Hall, and it will be the first time leaving California for many students.
“It’s a dream come true to go to New York with all of my best friends and play at Carnegie Hall,” said Sal Larkins, a senior at Santa Cruz High and alto saxophone soloist for the upcoming performance.
The band submitted an application to Festival at Carnegie Hall by WorldStrides — an invitation-only event for elite musical groups — in the summer with a recording of a performance from April 2022. That springtime set at the Northern California Band Association Concert Festival earned the band a unanimous superior rating — the highest awarded in band competitions.
The band will perform a mix of pieces from classical compositions to Latin dance music, with one piece specifically commissioned by Latham to commemorate a friend she lost to a heart attack during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when people couldn’t convene or grieve together.
Carmel Pajita was the band director at Vallejo High School for more than 35 years. She and Latham bonded through a group for band directors who are women; band director is a job where women are often in the minority.
“I’ll be taking that piece and the memory of my friend Carmel Pajita to Carnegie Hall with us,” said Latham.
The piece, “Playground in the Sky,” was written by American composer Rossano Galante.
Between rehearsals, the students will explore the big city, visiting cultural sites like the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 Memorial, Central Park and Ellis Island. They will also attend some Broadway shows, including the hit musical “Hamilton.”
The students have been fundraising to pay for their trip, and Latham thanks the community for its continued support throughout her 24 years as band director at Santa Cruz High School.
“The community in Santa Cruz has always been incredibly supportive of the band program. We would not even be close to what we are without the community support that we receive,” said Latham. “We’re all one big band family.”