Orchestra travels to New Orleans


Seth Johnson

The Symphonic and Concert Orchestras performs “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Pelicans v. Spurs NBA game.

Kris Long, Print Editor-in-Chief

The Manhattan High Symphonic and Concert Orchestras had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of performing the “The Star Spangled Banner” at an NBA game and both orchestras participated in the WorldStrides Heritage Festival on their trip to New Orleans Thursday through Monday.

After traveling all day Wednesday, the 64 orchestra students visited New Orleans sites – including the French Quarter – held a clinic with the University of Memphis and watched a jazz concert on Friday. 

“I think my most memorable part was when we were able to go to a jazz concert,” junior Jarvin Gomez said. “And I think one of the really cool things about the jazz concert was the way that all the players connected to each other… the level of musical maturity, I think, they’re able to perform with each other, we were able to get something out of it because we needed to know how to play with ourselves as well.”

The orchestra program has been part of the WorldStrides Heritage Festival five times previously. The Chamber orchestra won first place and got a Gold rating in the Small Orchestra category playing “Tchaikovsky’s Serenade,” while Symphonic placed second in the Large Orchestra category and was rated Silver. Junior Julius Neumann also won an individual award for outstanding playing and leadership. 

“It’s a great honor,” orchestra teacher Cody Toll said. “I think the kids definitely earned it. They’ve worked hard all year to prepare for this and they played an excellent performance on Saturday morning.”

The Chamber orchestra has a five-time streak of winning first and receiving a Gold rating and were anxious to keep it up this year. 

“We were all really nervous because we were all scared that we were going to break the string of chamber winning first place at festivals before,” Gomez said. “We were scared we would be the ones to get second or not even place, so we were all very relieved.”

Saturday afternoon the Chamber Orchestra played the national anthem for the Pelicans v. Spurs NBA game, which was the first time an MHS orchestra has been invited to play. 

“It was so weird,” Gomez said. “Rehearsing before the game, when all the seats were empty, and then the second time we went out on the court the place was just full of people and everything got quiet and then the lights went out. And then there was a spotlight on us, and I thought that was really cool, especially the silences in between some of the phrases.”

They performed their own unique version of “The Star Spangled Banner.“

“We actually divided the national anthem up into multiple sections, and in the quartets we rearranged those sections,” Neumann said, “and then Mr. Toll put our rearrangements all together into a really, really cool arrangement.”

The students headed back to Kansas on Monday, after a clinic with the University of Oklahoma. 

“I think the most memorable part was getting to see some of the friendships that occurred and grew on the trip,” Symphonic Band teacher Brett Lytle said.  “There were a lot of people who maybe didn’t know certain people, didn’t interact with certain people and it was fun to see some of those new friendships and new bonds form on the trip. So… that was my favorite and most memorable part, kind of knowing that we grew closer as a group.”