In brilliant relief against the nighttime sky, a barrage of fireworks explodes over our nation’s capitol. It is the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C., and the culmination of three very busy days for Carmel High seniors Ian Wahle and Ari Freedman and juniors Will Georis and Ashley Reed.
In March, these dedicated musicians were selected for the Monterey County High School All-Star Band, or, in Reed’s case, Honor Vocal Ensemble, accomplishments that music teacher Brian Handley likens to playing on an all-league sports team: “It’s a great honor and a great goal to shoot for.”
According to Handley, it’s been some time since more than two CHS students were in the band at once. Now we’re back up to five, including senior Jack Ellison, who couldn’t attend the trip because of a camp counseling commitment.
While performing is certainly not unfamiliar to CHS’ All-Stars, the trip to D.C. was a new experience. In the words of Wahle, “It’s kind of another level of playing, in that it’s more complex and you’re working to go on tour.”
But after all the hard work, the tour turned out a great success. Highlights included finishing a set with near-perfect execution, jamming with professional musicians and pulling an all-nighter with friends.
The group played in a variety of prestigious venues, from the Kennedy Center and National Archives—both on the Fourth of July—to the legendary Bohemian Caverns, the city’s oldest and most authentic jazz club.
“It felt real,” Reed emphatically says of performing at the Caverns. And in many ways, her words go for the trip as a whole, which offered real-world experience that may one day inform and prepare the musicians in their futures ahead.
In one final performance, the group will play at the Monterey Jazz Festival on Sept. 20.