On April 3, 45 Byng Secondary had the thrill of their musical lives as they performed on the stage of Carnegie Hall in New York as a part of the Festival at Carnegie Hall.
Sponsored by Heritage Festival, Byng's wind ensemble (a senior level concert band) was one of only two Canadian schools and 14 schools from across North America to be invited to play at the event. According to music director and teacher Scott MacLennan the bar was set exceedingly high for entry.
Only the top 98 percent of entries qualified for a trip to New York. MacLennan credits hours and hours of practice and a top-level audition tape that wowed the judges enough to win an entry for the Vancouver performers.
So on April 3 after an enjoyable site seeing trip to New York's top excursions including visits to the Lincoln Centre, Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Centre, the bus of Byng musicians pulled up in front of the prestigious hall. That afternoon, the students mounted the Carengie stage, braved the gazes of over a 100 people in the audience and played Leonard Bernstein's Slava, Dusk by Steven Bryant, Symbiopholie by Canadian composer Jonathan Dagenais, and Satoshi Yagisawa's Hymn to the Infinite Sky.
"It was just electric. It is such a hallowed space," he says. "The kids did one of their best performances ever."
MacLennan says his students were magnificent and put on such a fine performance that afterwards several of the adjudicators commented on how their performance was "a highlight of the day".
With the job well done, the students quickly packed up their gear and jubilantly hopped onto their waiting bus secure in the musical memory of a lifetime: stage time at Carnegie Hall.