By Kelli Gile
Diamond Bar – The Chaparral Middle School Wind Ensemble performed during the John Philip Sousa Band Festival at the renowned Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
The 40-member group was one of only four bands from across the country – and the only middle school invited – to celebrate the music of the “March King” during the May 31 concert.
The ensemble presented Sea Song Trilogy, Tame the Savage Sea, and Fairest of the Fair under the direction of Leslie Schroerlucke. Also debuted by the students, was Memories of the March King, a three-movement piece by Dr. Buddy Clements, Instrumental Music Director at Walnut High.
Music Celebrations International hosted the inaugural Sousa festival.
“It was an amazing trip! Students definitely rose to the challenge and played better than I had ever heard them,” Schroerlucke commented.
The Chaparral musicians impressed the 1,000-member audience who showed their appreciation with a rousing standing ovation.
“We had many people stop us afterward and comment that they couldn’t believe we were a middle school band!” the Diamond Bar director recalled.
“It was a thrill to play on a national stage with so much history,” she added.
The ensemble also shared the dressing room once occupied by legendary conductors Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein.
Additional highlights of the trip included a clinic with conductor Anthony Maiello at George Mason University, a U.S. Marine Band concert, and a wreath laying ceremony at the gravesite of John Philip Sousa in the Congressional Cemetery.
Students enjoyed sightseeing at historical monuments and Smithsonian museums.