New Trier Musicians Shine as Goodwill Ambassadors on Carnegie Hall Performance Tour
“Music is a language that is shared universally. These experiences outside of school help our students
to realize there are different ways of doing things. It takes them out of their comfort zone and
helps them to grow.” – Peter Rosheger, Music Faculty and Director of Orchestras
During the 2018 spring break, New Trier student musicians embarked on a tour that culminated with a matinee concert performance at New York City’s Carnegie Hall, one of the most celebrated performance halls in the world. The Concert Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and Symphony Orchestra were chaperoned by 14 faculty and staff. The two wind ensembles performed as one combined band under the name, Wind Symphony.
A total of 150 students went on tour which represents a very large cross section of both the band and orchestra programs, with nearly half of the students in both areas having participated. Since there is overlap between the band and orchestra members, this equated to a band of 80 students and an orchestra of 105 students for the Carnegie Hall performance. The tour included other cultural and educational experiences including visits to the Ground Zero Memorial, Museum of Modern Art and Rockefeller Center; a live performance of the Italian opera, Lucia di Lammermoor at the Met; and the Broadway musical Anastasia. The Foundation provided $10,000 funding support toward some of the travel expenses.
New Trier High School made its premiere appearance at Carnegie Hall in 2006 and had received an invitation to perform there again this spring. “I’ve heard former students refer to that first performance tour as a life changing moment in their lives that they will never forget,” recalls Matt Temple, New Trier Director of Bands.
Peter Rosheger, New Trier Director of Orchestras, describes the students’ facial expressions as a “storm front of joy, wonder and speechlessness” when they heard the sound from their collective playing. “Carnegie Hall has some of the finest acoustics, and watching our students soak in the experience was hard to put into words,” reminisces Rosheger.
The Wind Symphony and Symphony Orchestra also participated in a music exchange with another high school en route to NYC. According to Temple, it’s important for students to have a concert performance before the culmination at Carnegie. It was quite a challenge securing the exchange with another high school due to the tour taking place during spring break. “After searching for about a year, we found John P. Stevens High School in Edison, New Jersey,” said Temple. “They had a strong music program which was comparable in size to that of New Trier, and with nearly the same number of kids in band and orchestra. And the timing worked perfectly as our trip coincided with several of their music classes.”
“When we play for other high school students who have similar passion and focus, it’s a powerful learning experience for our students. They take it very seriously – in some ways more seriously than playing the stage in Carnegie,” points out Rosheger. “Students from both high schools share the same understanding of the hard work and dedication that goes into it.”
Our students had clinics with professional conductors at the Carroll Music Studios, a well-known and historical rehearsal space in NYC for luminaries in the professional music world. The band clinician was Dr. William Berz, Director of Bands at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The orchestra clinician was Maestro Cliff Colnot, Director of Orchestral Studies and Conducting at DePaul University in Chicago, and guest conductor for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Temple and Rosheger constantly talk to their students about their roles as New Trier ambassadors outside the school. “It’s extraordinary how many people we’ve met on tour who comment on how efficient, organized and professional our students were,” says Rosheger.
“At every turn, we see our students really embody the motto – to commit minds to inquiry, hearts to compassion, and lives to the service of humanity,” affirms Temple. “Peter and I have traveled with our groups together multiple times now and this was by far the most successful tour we’ve had.”
“This experience has helped to form stronger bonds of friendship between our students,” adds Rosheger. “We are thankful that the Foundation continues to support this kind of endeavor because we believe they are a critical part of the development of our students.”