With more than 10,000 performers, a street audience of more than 650,000 and a television audience exceeding 600 million, the annual London New Year’s Day Parade is a dream event to perform in for many musicians. That dream will became a reality for Mountain View High School’s marching band in January.
“The New Year’s Day Parade is just one of the events you know exists but never imagine that you will be performing in,” drum major Stephanie Evanson said. “I’m excited to share our music with a different part of the world and play with my friends in a different country.”
A recommendation from Oak Grove High School’s music directors, whose band has performed at the parade, led to Mountain View’s participation in 2019, according to the school’s instrumental music director, Jason Kneebone. In March 2017, the Lord Mayor of London and the CEO of the parade traveled to Mountain View to formally invite the band to perform in the 31st annual event, breaking the news in an assembly held for the marching band community.
“They were met with thunderous applause and standing ovations,” Kneebone said. “We’re really thankful to the directors at Oak Grove, who gave us a shout-out and trusted in us that we’d be good representatives.”
Kneebone said the band plans to perform two pieces in the parade: “The Greatest Show” (from the musical film “The Greatest Showman”) and a medley of Daft Punk’s music.
Mountain View’s wind ensemble will be making the trip to London as well. Although it won’t march in the parade, the group will perform at a parade-related concert series scheduled Dec. 29. Kneebone said the ensemble plans to play Steven Reineke’s “Sedona,” Frank Ticheli’s “Shenandoah“ and John Williams’ “Midway March.”
In total, 156 representatives from Mountain View will be going on the trip, Kneebone said. Approximately 140 of them are current students and seven are marching band alumni who will perform as well.
The cost of the eight-day trip is approximately $3,600 per student and $3,400 per chaperone, according to the band website. In an effort to build a scholarship fund to support students who need financial aid, Kneebone said the band has held several fundraisers throughout the year, including its annual direct appeal fundraiser and sale of coupon cards. Band members also hold restaurant fundraisers every month.
To create an itinerary for the trip, Kneebone and the directors of the other participating bands flew to London in June at the expense of parade officials. He said the directors conversed with each other, walked the parade route and went on sightseeing tours, allowing them to choose activities for their bands – such as The Harry Potter Experience at the Warner Bros. Studios in North London or a guided walking tour of the city.
“I hope my students gain a sense of global perspective,” Kneebone said. “It will be a good opportunity for them to act as ambassadors of the Bay Area and interact with students from around the country who all do and love the same thing: marching band.”
Students will be placed into chaperone groups ranging from 10 to 12 people, who will help facilitate what they do in their unscheduled free time, whether it’s seeing a musical or shopping.
“I’m excited to watch the students enjoy themselves and have fun, because this opportunity was provided for them,” Kneebone said. “That’s really the best part of my job no matter where we are – it’s watching them take full advantage of their opportunities and really going for it.”
Students like Evanson plan to do just that.
“I hope to gain a lot of memories and good experiences that I can take back home,” she said. “There should definitely be more money put into arts departments, so kids can experience once-in-a-lifetime trips like this.”
The group is slated to leave for London Thursday and return home Jan. 3.
To donate funds for the trip and for more information, visit mvspartanmusic.net.