Music on the Move

It’s 9 a.m. and the crowd roars.

The marching begins and the band moves as one: left, left, left, right, left.

From a sea of green, black, blue and white, a hundred breaths sound as one.

Instruments are raised as trained eyes make their way toward the conductor.

It’s showtime.

In 2009, the Green Valley High School marching band was invited to perform at President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony. This year on Nov. 25, New York City will play host to the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the very same marching band has been selected to play along the parade route. 

“This invite to the Macy’s (Thanksgiving) Day Parade is such a big thing for our band and we are really proud to be able to represent Green Valley in New York City,” sophomore Victoria Barnett said. “This is a great opportunity and an amazing way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our school.”

Barnett is a drum major in the marching band and plays the saxophone for the symphonic varsity band. Three out of the six bands and about 200 students will perform in New York City during the weeklong trip. The symphonic varsity band uses the same instrumentation as a marching band, but performs as a concert ensemble.

“Last year, the jazz band got the amazing experience of performing at Birdland, a world-famous jazz club that’s located in New York City,” senior Jeremy Yee said. “The Macy’s trip will definitely be different with the much larger group of people going. The actual parade will be drastically unlike performing in a jazz club, but I’ll enjoy playing tunes like ‘Viva Las Vegas’ that show our pride for our city.”

Each year, about 3.5 million people line the streets of New York to watch the parade, and about 50 million viewers tune in to watch the three-hour event on television. Because of pedestrian mall construction, the traditional parade route no longer passes through Times Square. The marching band, led by band director Diane Koutsulis and Cecil Myers, will perform on a new route along Seventh Avenue.  

“We had to apply two years ahead and we found out that we were chosen to go about 18 months ago,” Koutsulis said. “They take eight high school bands, but we’re the only band from Clark County to ever get invited.”

In preparation for the parade, the band has been rehearsing on a weekly basis since August. Band members also have been having fundraising events for the past 18 months, such as an annual pasta dinner and a fireworks booth during the summer. According to Koutsulis, the collective cost of the trip will be about $400,000.

“Students have known about the trip for a long time,” Koutsulis said. “They’ve been getting ready and putting money toward the band trip and even raised close to $8,000 from the fireworks sales.”

Over the years, the Green Valley High School band has had the opportunity to perform in venues around the world. In addition to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the symphonic band and orchestra also have been asked to perform at Carnegie Hall on Nov. 28.

“I think that every place we have gone to has amazing things,” Koutsulis said. “We’ve been to London three times, Scotland, Paris, Rome, and we’ve played for two inaugurations, but going to Macy’s is a unique, all-American experience and one of the greatest parades of our country.”


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