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USF Wind Ensemble Needs $ to Play Carnegie Hall

Aimee Blodgett
USF News

You know the old adage, "What does it take to get to Carnegie Hall?"

The USF Wind Ensemble is finding out that not only does it take "Practice, practice, practice," it also takes "Money, money, money!"

The ensemble is one of only three bands scheduled to perform at the sold-out 12th Annual New York Wind Band Festival showcase concert March 4th. It takes place at Carnegie Hall, which USF Director of Bands and Professor of Conducting John Carmichael calls the "most prestigious concert venue in America."

But what makes it even more special, Carmichael says, is that the group was specifically asked to perform.

"Being selected by (Festival organizer) World Projects was a matter of recommendation and reputation," he said. "We were recommended by their committee as the major university band program to send a group this year.  In that regard, it's a singular honor."

However, the ensemble is currently about $4,200 short of the $80,000 they need to get the 62 students and chaperones to New York City. Each student is already picking up at least $700 of that amount, plus Carmichael says they've adjusted their plans just to get to the level they're at.

"The things we've cut out are all excursions and we cut out an extra night so that we're staying only three nights instead of four," Carmichael said. "We also have no meals in the plan for the students, the students will be eating on their own. So we did everything we possibly could to lower the overall trip cost and to get the best bargain possible for our students."

The ensemble hopes to meet the shortfall with a preview concert Thursday night at 7:30 in the USF School of Music Concert Hall. Fittingly enough, it's called "How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall? The Answer."

They'll perform eight pieces, including the five they plan to play at Carnegie Hall: "Radiant Joy" by Steven Bryant, "Fantasy Variations" by Donald Grantham, "Toccata Marziale" by Ralph Vaughan Williams, "Colors Aloft" by Daniel Godfrey, and "Double Percussion Concerto," a piece they're premiering composed by USF instructor Baljinder Sekhon.

And even if they fall short of their fund-raising goal, Carmichael has one simple message - the USF Wind Ensemble is going to New York.

"Right now, we're, what is it - 'In for a penny, in for a pound?' We're in for the pound," Carmichael said. "We have quite a bit of money already invested in it, so one way or the other, mortgage my house, I don't know, we'll find a way to cover that remaining amount."

If you'd like to donate to the Ensemble, you can contact Carmichael at jcarmich@usf.edu. Tickets for Thursday's concert range from $10.75 to $15.25 and can be bought here or at the School of Music box office. 

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