Band prepares for Irish expedition

For the school’s annual homecoming parade, band members march for a mile in the October heat, playing simple songs for small crowds and taking in the expected applause from Carillon Elementary’s fifth graders. Upon turning into the stadium, they hear a few respectful cheers from some overenthusiastic students, while sighing with relief as they turn the final corner.
Though typical parades are nothing special for the band, in March 2016, members will travel across the world for a more unique experience: the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
In late September, directors Brad and Brian Kuperman submitted an application for the parade, which included recordings of the band and recommendations from musicians across the state. After being accepted, they announced the trip to students, and 77 signed up to take part in the Irish tradition.
“It’s one of the largest celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day, especially since we’re in the country that it comes from,” junior Travis Lowry said.
While the band is used to performing for an audience of approximately 2000 high schoolers, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is expected to yield an average of 500,000 viewers, including the President of Ireland and the Lord Mayor of Dublin, making this the largest crowd the program has ever seen. According to Lowry, however, the excitement to perform in a foreign country outweighs the pressure of a vast audience.
“You don’t really have to think of it as a large audience,” Lowry said. “Playing to 10 people is the same as playing to 10,000 people.”
Along with the parade, the band will tour the country for the entire week, spending two nights in Dublin before visiting places such as the castles of Kilkenny, the scenic Cliffs of Moher and the small town of Dingle.
“It’ll be cool to see all the old architecture, we don’t have that here,” Brian said. “All of the old castles that were built, they’re actual castles where people lived way back. The oldest thing that we have here is St. Augustine.”
As the costs of tours, hotels, meals and transportation add up to nearly $3000 per person, the directors have provided opportunities for students to fundraise and make the price more reasonable. Members currently work concessions at the school’s athletic games and UCF events, and will be able to participate in car washes and gain sponsorship from businesses in the future.
Although the price stands high, according to junior John McHale, the trip will be a unique experience for the band classes, allowing students to explore the culture overseas while exploring music outside of the classroom.
“It’s an interesting experience to see culture outside of the United States, and we also get to play music at the same time,” McHale said. “It’ll get [band members] excited to play their instruments.”
With St. Patrick’s Day being one of Ireland’s biggest holidays, the band looks forward to joining in on the celebrations and learning of the country’s culture next year.
“We get to play music in a completely foreign land, and we get to see how they celebrate things,” McHale said. “We have our Macy’s Day Parade, but they have their St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”