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.”
Learning from NYC Jazz Legends
“The focus of this trip was for our students to learn from some amazing artists and educators in a setting that’s rarely available to high school students.” – Nic Meyer, Director of Jazz Ensembles
New Trier students in Jazz Ensemble 1 traveled to New York City in Spring 2017 for a week of musical immersion in its unparalleled jazz scene. Our students had the rare opportunity to interact with members of the Grammy-winning Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (VJO). Widely regarded as one of the most important jazz ensembles in the history of American music, they have been in residence every Monday night for the past 50 years at the Village Vanguard located in Greenwich Village.
The two-hour clinic and performance session was the highlight of the trip where our students worked closely with VJO members to learn the jazz orchestra’s music in depth and get one-on-one feedback. The Educational Foundation provided $2,000 funding support to compensate the VJO for its time and to rent the venue.
The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, based in New York City, is a 16-piece jazz orchestra founded in 1966 by Thad Jones, who composed and arranged for the Count Basie Orchestra, and drummer Mel Lewis, who toured with veteran big band leader Benny Goodman. Click here to read more about the VJO’s history.
Several of music history’s most important jazz composers have been composers‐in‐residence for the VJO. In the span of a school year, New Trier’s jazz program routinely performs three or more of their compositions. Students in Jazz Ensemble 1 study the recordings of VJO, work to understand the musical decisions of the individuals in the ensemble, and endeavor to capture the essence of their unique ensemble sound.
Our students also had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with New Trier alumni, performing to a capacity crowd for the New Trier Jazz Showcase at the Greenwich House. Alumni musicians included pianist Shane Simpson ’11, drummer Ethan Kogan ’09, saxophonist Daniel Berkey ’13 and saxophonist Andrew Hadrow ’01 now living and working in New York.
Concert Choir Performs at Kennedy Center
“Our students grew from working with an outstanding conductor in Jefferson Johnson and from socializing and learning from chorus members from other communities. Watching their faces as they came off the stage after the performance was one I’ll remember for a long time. One mixed with pride, awe and inspiration.”
– David Ladd, Music Department Chair
This past April 2017, Concert Choir sang with an elite mass choir of adult musicians at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. through Manhattan Concert Productions. The major work performed was the Messe Solennelle by French composer, Louis Vierne. The Foundation was pleased to provide funding support to help offset travel expenses.
A powerful highlight of the trip was attending a performance of Ragtime at Ford’s Theatre. Students were profoundly moved by the story and spoke for some time after the performance of the symbolic relevance of the themes found in the production. It was also not lost on the students that they were viewing this production in such an important place, a living and breathing theatre and memorial to Abraham Lincoln.
The students also visited several memorials and monuments including the 9/11 Pentagon, Air Force & Iwo Jima Marine Memorials, Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the World War II, Korean and Vietnam Memorials, the Martin Luther King and Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorials, the Udvar/Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Institute, the Capitol Building and the Library of Congress.
Naturally, the rehearsals and performance at the Kennedy Center was the focal point of the trip. For many weeks following the conclusion of the trip, all participants continued to reflect passionately about their experiences and how these events provided them with opportunities for growth and memories that they will treasure for a lifetime.
Read more impact stories: