Steamboat Springs High School Band returns from England with stories of success
Steamboat Springs — After two years of planning, fundraising and practicing, the Steamboat Springs High School band was able to fly to England for a week of music, performance, sightseeing, some surprise encounters and a recording with BBC Four.
“I have played music there myself quite a bit and had always wanted to share what we do in America with our band programs in England,” said band director Jim Knapp. “The trip took a couple of years to prepare, but all that preparation helped make it what it was.”
For the students, this was an opportunity to both showcase their talents and discover more about the international scope of music.
“The trip really opened my eyes to see that you can make a career out of music,” said sophomore and flutist Scout Reynolds. “I know I’ll keep pursuing music because of this opportunity.”
The band had three performances in seven days, packing in sightseeing in between. Their first performance was at the first annual Walmer Food and Drink Festival at the Deal Memorial Bandstand, a memorial erected in the seaside town of Deal for 11 Royal Marine bandsmen killed in 1989.
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“I did not anticipate this, but a couple thousand people were there during our performance,” Knapp said. “We were one of six bands in the festival’s lineup, and the performance turned out to be great, especially as the first one of the trip.”
From Deal, the band traveled to the second largest castle in England, the Caerphilly Castle. Although the castle is mostly in ruins, some of the great halls, including the one the band performed in throughout the day for school groups and tourists visiting the castle, have been rebuilt.
“My favorite part of the trip was playing in the castle because of the acoustics,” Reynolds said. “The band’s sound was great there.”
For the last performance, the band returned to London, where they performed at the St. Paul’s Church Covent Garden. Here, the band not only bumped into former Steamboat Springs High School band director Dan Isbell but also a BBC Four reporter writing an article on one of the band’s pieces, “Nimrod,” written in honor of one of the band member’s ancestors.
“The reporter just happened to be at the church doing a story on the history of the piece, and one of my students and her mother, who was chaperoning, are related to the guy it was written for,” Knapp said. “The kids got recorded, and it’s playing on BBC Four when the story airs. Who knows if we’ll ever hear it, but we can still say that Steamboat was a part of a BBC piece.”
Despite the extensive planning, Knapp believes the most memorable parts of the trip were the spontaneous, unexpected ones.
“A lot of what happened, like the crowd in Deal and the BBC thing, wasn’t planned but were just a result of our music,” Knapp said. “I think that really gave the kids a strong sense of purpose in music, and I know we’ll continue this for years coming.”
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