Jones High- Carnegie Hall-The Orlando Times
Jones High Student Musicians Are Invited To Open At Carnegie Hall
BY JALESSA CASTILLO, TIMES STAFF WRITER
ORLANDO - Members of the Jones High School (JHS) Concert Choir and Wind Ensemble have spent months preparing for what is sure to be a life-changing performance at Carnegie Hall. The prestigious music festival is scheduled for April 7, when they will be in concert alongside only nine other high schools chosen in the nation.
“I am beyond words! I think that this is an amazing opportunity for the kids to perform on a stage as big as Carnegie Hall, that is every musician’s dream---it’s like the Super Bowl for football players,” said JHS Concert Choir Director Andrea Green.
Built by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1891, Carnegie Hall has set the international standard for musical excellence. In Midtown Manhattan in New York City, it is located at 881 Seventh Avenue, two blocks south of Central Park.
The 3,671-seated hall is divided among its three auditoriums: Main Hall (Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage), Zankel Hall, and Weill Recital Hall.
From Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, Mahler, and Bartók to George Gershwin, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Judy Garland, The Beatles, and more, an honor roll of music-making artists has filled Carnegie Hall throughout the years.
$200,000 will be needed for 100 students and chaperones to participate in the April 5-8 trip, which also includes attending a Broadway show and sightseeing, as this will be the first time many of these students have ever left Florida. Students must raise the remaining $109,000 by March 15 to attend.
“I am so amazed that people from outside of Jones and Orlando will get the chance to hear what I am fortunate enough to hear every day. I am very proud of them.” said JHS Principal Allison Kirby. “We appreciate all the community’s support, they have really rallied around these children.”
“I am euphoric because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our students,” said JHS Alumni Rear Admiral David Brewer. “When you support our band and our choir you are supporting academic excellence as well as career success. Some of the most distinguished citizens in the country have graduated out of our band and choir.”
To raise the money, students have scheduled various fundraising events nearly every weekend leading up to their deadline. While big contributors such as Universal, Disney, Publix, Lockheed Martin, and AT&T, have donated they still need a lot of help.
Members of the community, organizations, and businesses are being admonished to go to SupportJonesHigh.com and click “donate today”. There are multiple payment options including: PayPal or credit card, an online banking option, or to mail a check to Jones High School Foundation at P.O Box 55427 Orlando, FL 32855. Additionally, a person can choose to sponsor a student which costs $2000 or donate via the company they work for and ask about match funding.
“I am proud that both the Jones High School Concert Choir and the Jones High School Wind Ensemble have been selected to appear at Carnegie Hall as participants in the World Strides National Youth Choir and National Instrumental Festivals because it is a validation on a national level of the superior music training,” said Dr. Carl MaultBy, a JHS alumni. “The trip should be a source of pride for not only the students and alumni of Jones High but also for the Greater Metropolitan Orlando Community because in our coming together to send the students, we reflect the best, positive values that we as a community instill into our youth.”
Meanwhile, performance preparation is taking place as well.
“For my students we perform after school about 4 times a week for about 2 hours and we are constantly rehearsing our music to make sure we are on our A game. It’s a big commitment but we are up for the challenge,” said Green.
The JHS concert choir was originally chosen to be part of a mass choir of high school students under the direction of internationally acclaimed conductor Lynne Gacle from Baylor University. However, they have recently been rewarded the opportunity to perform the opening number for the concert as well, performing two of their own songs under the conduction of Green.
“It took it to another level for me, just to know that I will be able to be on stage with my students and experience it at the same time for the first time, I am just I am so humbled and grateful,” she said. “Since we will be the first choir that the audience will hear for the evening we will set the tone and stage for that night. I’m beyond words, I can hardly believe it.”
They are continuing to work together with the goal of touching the hearts of those in the audience.
“Sometimes it looks like we don’t know how we are going to make it but we are keeping the faith. We are going to stay positive, we don’t want any negative energy,” she added. “God is going to make sure we have everything we need to make it happen. We stay strong, we stay focused, and we work hard.”
Members of the JHS Choir and Wind Ensemble are regarded as some of the best students in the nation, with over 95% of them enrolled in college. Additionally, 100% of Jones High students are on free or reduced lunch, which makes the task of raising the funds even harder, yet possible with support from the community.
“It’s the dream of every musician to make it to Carnegie Hall so we’ve been practicing a lot,” said senior Jonathan Grant, Choir Base Section Leader, and Mr. Choir 2018. “I think the entire choir has come together, we’ve always been family but with all the fundraisers we are doing we have more concerts and practices so we spend a lot of time together, so I feel this entire process is bringing us together and its exciting.”
Like most of the students involved, this will be Grant’s first time in New York and “going with my choir family makes it 100x better. It’s really amazing!”
Next week’s follow-up article will explore what the JHS Wind Ensemble is doing to prepare for this prestigious performance and what other leaders of the community have to say about this esteemed honor.
“We were one of the nine high schools chosen, then we were one of three schools to have both our choir and band invited, and now we are one of one to open the show; the best of the best,” said Adm. Brewer.
To donate please visit SupportJonesHigh.com and/or attend the following fundraiser activities: Car Wash on Saturday, March 31, 10 AM – 3 PM. Chick-fil-a, 2885 S. Orange Avenue, Orlando 32806. JHS Concert Choir. Performances: February 15 – Metro West Unity Networking Mixer Black History Month Celebration. Opus & Wind Ensemble & February 18, 6 PM – Hope Church, 3032 Monte Carlo Trail, Orlando, Florida 32805. Opus & Wind Ensemble.