New York, New York


On April 6th, the GCHS band shipped out of town and headed straight for the Big Apple. We were going to be on our annual spring trip for six days; four days in the city and two on the road. During those six days we would be experiencing many new things together, exploring the huge city of New York and taking part in a Worldstrides Concert band competition.

I’d go back in an instant.”

— Alex Gray

The busride to the City took 22 hours in total. Just for future reference, if you ever have the option of flying instead of driving a distance that far, do not hesitate. Spending 22 straight hours on a bus full of teenagers is not the most glamorous experience. But, when we finally got to our destination—sleep deprived, and for most people, a bit cranky—we were immediately revived by the sight of it.

Until you get there you just can’t comprehend how huge the buildings are. And since the buildings are so close together, most places you go into are two or three stories, with department stores being around seven. We drove around the city, staring out the windows before arriving at the ferry to take to Statue of Liberty. Shortly after, we were on Ellis Island where we took pictures and then we traveled back to the mainland of New York. For dinner, we went to Little Italy where we walked around, window shopping, and had an Italian meal together as a band.

Then, after a good night’s sleep and an early wake up time of 6 AM, the band ate breakfast and were off to the music festival. The Granite Concert Band warmed up first and performed their three pieces they had spent the entire semester preparing: Toccata, With Each Sunset, and The Peacemaker March. After a rousing performance, The Granite City Concert band was presented with three scores by three judges: a 98, a 97, and a 93 out of a possible 100 and received First Place in their class. Meanwhile, the Granite City Wind Ensemble had been warming up, and after the Concert band left the stage the second band took to it. The Wind Ensemble performed their three pieces: Songs of Old Kentucky, featuring sax soloist Nick Haddock, Caccia and Chorale, and a march: Cyrus the Great. After their stunning performance they received an averaged score between the three ratings of 99, 99, and 100, they also took first place in their class, the Adjudicator’s Award and Nick Haddock received the award for the best overall solo in the festival. For the rest of the day, they spent time exploring The Museum of Natural History and Central Park before getting on a party and dinner cruise with the rest of the participants in the competition to finish the night.

On the third day, the band woke up at the crack of dawn to eat at the infamous Planet Hollywood, having some bacon, eggs, french toast and anything else you could think of. After finishing up with breakfast, the shuttle buses took the band to the Rockefeller Center and Observation Deck for an amazing view. We took many pictures of the view atop the building. Several dying batteries and thousands of pictures later, we finally managed to leave the Rockefeller Center and onto street level. Many groups went on to explore their surroundings, visiting cathedrals, buying food off of street vendors, and spending time at shopping centers. While being lost in New York’s crevices is fun, watching Wicked, the hit Broadway musical, was so much better. After the amazing two and a half hour show had concluded, our night ended with a jazz set at Birdland Jazz Club.

The last day of the band trip in New York started by us waking up and eating some breakfast from Applebee’s. The next stop was the 9/11 Memorial. After we walked around the park and its waterfalls, we headed to the main building. We went through the museum and learned about the events that happened that day. After the buses were loaded, we proceeded to Chinatown to window shop and eat lunch from the mainly little hole-in-wall stores and their small restaurants. After Chinatown, we finished our shopping and sightseeing at Times Square. For our final New York meal we ate at Dallas BBQ with some old country style cooking. We finished New York trip by seeing the world renowned Blue Man Group. It was a bit of an unexpected performance, because you never knew what would happen next, but it was very interesting. Then, we got back on the bus for a 20-hour shuttle ride back to Granite City. Even with the grueling bus ride to and around the city, this trip was a great experience that let us experience many of the wonders of New York.

“New York was a great experience for me. I’d go back in an instant,” said Alex Gray.

“I loved my experience in New York because of all the international monuments; the statue of liberty was a lot smaller than I thought it was,” said fellow band member Anthony Guzman.

“I absolutely loved the city and its environment, everything was so busy. If I ever get the chance to go back I definitely will,”said Stephanie Mullen.