PORT ANGELES — Every four years, Port Angeles High School orchestra students under the direction of Ron Jones get to embark on the trip of a lifetime to the Big Apple where they will perform at Carnegie Hall — but only with a little help from the community.
The last outing was in the spring of 2013.
The latest excursion to New York City — aka the center of the cultural universe — is slated for April 2017.
“We have been doing this since 1989, so this will be our eighth trip to New York,” Jones said recently.
“When we go, we take all of the string students” in ninth through 12th grades.
“Last time, we took 110 students and this time we are in the neighborhood of 170,” Jones continued.
To participate, each student will need to raise $2,700 throughout the next year, which includes airfare, accommodation and excess baggage fees for instruments as well as sightseeing, a dinner cruise, a Broadway show and museum visits.
Altogether, that is about $460,000 the group needs to raise.
To help kick-start the fundraising process, the Port Angeles High School Orchestra will present “An Elegant Evening of Waltz and More!”at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Port Angeles Masonic Temple, 622 S. Lincoln St.
The concert — hosted by Orchestra Parents United for Students (OPUS) — will begin with one hour of waltz instruction followed by an evening of waltz and ballroom classics performed by the orchestra until 10 p.m.
Tickets are $20 and available at Port Book and News at 104 E. First St., Port Angeles; Joyful Noise Music Center, 112 W. Washington St., Sequim; or online at www.brownpapertickets.com for an additional $2 fee.
“This is the big push,” Jones said.
“Port Angeles is not the richest community in the state, and we struggle to do this, but it is a great thing for our kids. The community has always been extremely supportive.”
Ben Basden, 17, a junior violinist, encourages the public to come to the show.
“We’ve got a great sound and this is one of the best programs in the community,” he said.
Going to New York “is a great trip and we couldn’t do it without the community’s support,” Basden continued.
“If they come and buy our tickets we will get the money to go.”
Said Jones: “We are not just asking for people to give us money to send us someplace. We want to earn our way and demonstrate to the people of Port Angeles that they really are quality performers and do play at a level they do like to have at Carnegie Hall.”
Jones said it is important to expand the cultural horizons of his students, and spaces out each trip by four years so that all students get a chance to participate regardless of their current grade level.
“Especially for students in Port Angeles, it is amazing the stories that come out of kids that take these trips,” he said.
“For instance, the student who gets on an airplane for the very first time and wants to know where the handle is to roll down the window to the students who stand in Central Park or at the base of the Empire State Building who are just completely overwhelmed by that experience.”
For some kids “it can even be the first time they are off the Peninsula, and it just broadens their perspective,” he said.
Although the trip is nearly a year out, Jones’ students said they already are excited.
“It is really cool to be working for that already,” said Lauren Rankin, 16, sophomore violinist.
Lauren Waldron, 16, a sophomore viola player, said she has never been to New York City before.
“I am excited to see Times Square and to go to a Broadway Show,” she said.
“I like musicals, so I am really excited for that.”
Leah Haworth, 16, a junior viola player, is looking forward to performing at Carnegie Hall during her final semester in high school.
“I think one of the main things I get to take away from the experience is that I am going to be playing at a concert hall that some of the greatest in music have played in,” she said.
“I think just that feeling in itself is going to be one of the most amazing things I can take with me when I leave home” and head off to college.
Traci Winters — principal cellist for The Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra and orchestra teacher at Jefferson and Roosevelt elementary schools — was among the students traveling with Jones during the group’s first trek to New York City in 1989.
“It was my first time in such a large city,” she said.
“We were able to go to the top of the Twin Towers, having no idea how important and special that experience would be years later.”
During her performance that year at Carnegie Hall, Winters’ group performed Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings, she said.
“I have played it several times since then, but that piece will forever take me back to the stage of Carnegie Hall, which was such an exciting culmination of months of in-depth rehearsals,” Winters said.
“Without a doubt, the Carnegie Hall trip is a must for the orchestra students of this town. For some students, it may be their first time out of the state or even just out of the region. Regardless of whether these students become professional musicians, small business owners, politicians, or CEO’s, this experience will enrich their lives in a deeply unforgettable way.”
“The New York trip opened my eyes to the rest of the world,” Winters said.
“As a Port Angeles native, I feel so fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. However, it is relatively isolated and a person simply can’t understand what that isolation is until they travel to a place like New York.”
For more information about how to contribute to the trip, send an email to Michele Haworth at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-452-5914.