Three students from Hilliard Bradley High School were among 19 Ohio high school students to perform Jan. 1 with the 299-member Bands of America Honor Band in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade in California.
Amanda Crawley, Kayla Duncan and Judy Larsen auditioned and were selected as members of the Bands of America Honor Band, which features high school students from the United States and Canada. The Bradley students were the only participants from central Ohio.
All those who auditioned were asked to perform the same piece of music and send a recording for judging. Music for All, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit organization, selects members for the honor band.
Honor band members spent a week in southern California, enjoying tours of Disneyland, Beverly Hills and Hollywood, as well as performing in the Rose Parade and receiving coaching and direction from marching band directors all over the country.
Crawley, 17, a junior at Bradley, is a flutist. Crawley began playing the flute when she was 6 years old.
"It was awesome," Crawley said of her experience, which included her first plane flight. "Flying out to California alone was a big enough adventure.
"I met so many amazing people (and) it was such an enriching experience."
Larsen, 16 a sophomore at Bradley, also is a flutist and shared a similar account of her experience.
"I learned so much and met a lot of new people," Larsen said.
Duncan, 17, a senior at Bradley, plays the trumpet.
"I just the love the sound of a trumpet," Duncan said.
Duncan said it was an "incredible experience" to receive instruction from world-class directors who led the practice sessions preceding the parade.
The parade was a new experience for the girls, too. During the 51/2-mile, three-hour march that precedes the Rose Bowl, the band played the same three songs from memory: the John Philip Sousa standard, The Stars and Stripes Forever; the contemporary pop recording Firework by Katy Perry; and a piece called Reflection of the Earth.
"It was a great learning experience," Duncan said. "What I learned I've brought back to share with the other members of our marching band."
Mark Oppenheimer, director of the Bradley marching band, agreed that the experience benefitted the students personally and the band as a whole.
"(Duncan's) skills as a musician, leader and a person are exceptional," Oppenheimer said.
Duncan is the field commander for Bradley's marching band. She previously has performed in New York City with the Macy's Great American Marching Band on Thanksgiving.
Crawley's appearance in California was her first in an honor band.
"(Crawley) has really excelled as a leader in our program," Oppenheimer said, adding that she was flute section leader this year.
Larsen also played in her first honor band in Pasadena.
"(Larsen) has become a great section player," Oppenheimer said.
He said Larsen also is a member of the symphonic band.
The Bands of America Honor Band and the Macy's Great American Marching Band "have both exposed our students to some of the greatest musicians and teachers in the country," Oppenheimer said. "The chance to perform in the two most exclusive national parades speaks for itself.
"Our kids have relished these opportunities and have brought back extensive knowledge to share with us, helping make our own program better. There is no substitute for these kinds of opportunities where students have the chance to better themselves, meet amazing people from all over the country and perform at the highest level possible."