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Clark High musicians play to Carnegie Hall audience

Sixty-two Clark High School band members and 102 orchestra musicians hopped on a redeye flight on April 9, heading to a performance of a lifetime in front of about 500 people at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

This year’s Carnegie Hall trip marked the third time both Chuck Cushinery, orchestra director, and Jeff Lacoff, band director, had been to the prestigious concert hall.

“There is no way to describe it; there is something in the air there,” Lacoff said in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal after the group’s return. He added, “We have been there before, but we are still like little kids (there).”

The Clark High musicians performed in the Distinguished Concerts International New York Windsongs with Susan E. Wagner High School wind ensemble from New York City.

Lacoff said the groups sent the production company, Distinguished Concerts International New York, an audition tape and were added to the performance list.

Clark High also sent bands to Carnegie Hall in 2008 and 2012.

The students stayed in New York for almost four days. Lacoff said they took in a New York Knicks game, museums, the New York Philharmonic and a musical at Lincoln Center.

“Many of the students had never been on an airplane; some had never been to a professional sporting event,” Cushinery said. “It is nice watching (the students) enjoy an experience they would never have had.”

Lacoff said conducting and performing on a stage once graced by Peter Tchaikovsky and The Beatles is incredible.

“For me, it is about watching 62 teenagers who are teenagers, and are subdued in their reactions to many things, but to see their eyes light up when they get (into Carnegie Hall); it is like watching a six-year-old on Christmas morning,” Lacoff said.

Cushinery and Lacoff said it will be four years until they take another Carnegie Hall trip. They said they rotate between taking the groups to Carnegie Hall and to Walt Disney World Resort.

Contact Rachel Spacek at 702-387-2921 or rspacek@reviewjournal.com. Follow @RachelSpacek on Twitter.

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