Our Oconomowoc High School Wind Symphony received a prestigious invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall for the New York Invitational Music Festival in April 2020. The OHS Wind Symphony is just one of three high schools in the United States that will perform on this storied stage during the Festival.
Read a full story about this amazing accomplishment written by Rebecca Seymour for Conley Media and the Oconomowoc Enterprise.
OHS Wind Symphony invited to perform at prestigious Carnegie Hall in NYC
By Rebecca Seymour
Special to Conley Media
OCONOMOWOC — The Oconomowoc High School Wind Symphony is one of just three high school groups from across the United States that will have the opportunity to perform on one of the world's greatest stages.
Directed by Michael Krofta, the OHS Wind Symphony has been invited to participate in the 2020 New York Invitational Music Festival held April 7-10 in the prestigious Carnegie Hall.
The New York Invitational Music Festival was designed to enhance the performance ability of the most advanced musical ensembles through master classes delivered by nationally known clinicians. Performing in the legendary concert hall whose rich legacy has allured the world's greatest artists to its stages, also offers a powerful experience for young musicians.
"To have the opportunity for our kids to perform at Carnegie Hall is really special and a dream come true for us. The New York Invitational Music Festival only seeks out the best ensembles in the nation," said Krofta. "We've done so many amazing things, and it's all because of the quality of our band program that has been building a legacy of success for more than 60 years."
Wind Symphony students started rehearsals on Monday to prepare for the trip, and the ensemble's upcoming fall concert at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 at the Oconomowoc Arts Center. The event is free and the community is invited.
"We're working on three to four pieces for the performance, one of which is Leonard Bernstein's 'Overture to Candide.' He conducted the New York Philharmonic on the Carnegie Hall stage, so I wanted to acknowledge him in a special way," explained Krofta.
OHS senior Joe Middleton has been playing the euphonium for seven years and has been a member of the OHS Wind Symphony since he was a sophomore.
"Performing at Carnegie Hall is a huge opportunity and we're all super excited about it. It's going to be a lot of work, but the Wind Symphony players are used to pushing ourselves and putting in the extra effort," said Middleton. "Our community also really supports us and our parents work so hard for us. I'm grateful because we couldn't do this without them."
There's an oft-told quip that reads, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!"
Dedication to playing their instruments every day to fine tune skills, while also rehearsing challenging, collegiate- level repertoire certainly had a hand in earning the Wind Symphony a spot at the 2020 New York Invitational Music Festival.
"I am incredibly proud of our band directors and students for being invited to play in New York City! Their hard work, along with the support of our parents, has given us yet another opportunity to showcase the talent that exists at Oconomowoc High School at this prestigious event," said OHS principal Jason Curtis.
Wind Symphony students and their parents are also well aware another crucial component required to "get to Carnegie Hall" is to fundraise, fundraise, fundraise.
The parent volunteer group, OHS Band Aids has been reaching out to community organizations, as well as organizing fundraising opportunities to help offset some of the expenses for 57 student musicians, staff and chaperones making the bus trip to New York City in April.
"The community has really responded so positively to the news of the OHS Wind Symphony performance at Carnegie Hall. Our goal is to raise $45,000, which is about half of what this trip will cost," explained OHS Band Aids president Jen Mortensen. "The kids worked so hard for this opportunity, and Mr. Krofta has this amazing way to inspire them. You hear that in every single concert."
Within the last couple of weeks, several Oconomowoc community organizations and service groups have already pledged their support through grants and donations, including the Oconomowoc Area Foundation, the Courtney Bella Imagine A Day Foundation, the Oconomowoc Rotary Foundation, and the Oconomowoc Kiwanis Breakfast Club.
"We are so proud of all the kids in the Wind Symphony. This is a once-in a- lifetime experience, and we are so pleased to be able to support this trip to Carnegie Hall," said Maribeth Bush of the Oconomowoc Area Foundation.
"We felt that such a high honor as this deserves to have the full support of the community and wanted to get the fundraising drive off to a good start. Our mission is dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time," added Oconomowoc Kiwanis Breakfast Club president Jerry Schneider.
Upcoming fundraisers that support the OHS band program include "There's No Place Like Home – Oconomowoc" T-shirt sale, Breakfast with Santa at the Oconomowoc Community Center on Nov. 30, the OHS Jazz Dance at the Waukesha Expo Center on Jan. 31, and others.
"We're so humbled by the continued support of the community. Performing at Carnegie Hall is one of the greatest experiences any musician could ever hope to have," added Krofta, his eyes shining with emotion. "They'll always remember this, for the rest of their lives!"
For more information on supporting the OHS Wind Symphony trip to Carnegie Hall and other band program events, visit the OHS Band Aids Facebook page or contact Mortensen at email@example.com.
Oconomowoc High School 2019-20 Wind Symphony
Photo Credit: Rebecca Seymour