High school orchestra earns spotlight at Kennedy Center

Traverse City Central orchestra students will head to Washington, D.C. in March to play at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.

Many musicians dream of playing at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Northern Michigan students are gearing up for a trip to the nationâ??s capital for just that.

The Traverse City Central High School's orchestra will be performing on the centerâ??s largest stage March 9.

Right now, theyâ??re about $23,000 short of their trip budget.

The students have been practicing since the beginning of the school year, and their instructor said no student will be left behind.

Instructor Ellen Boyer received an invite in the mail. She responded, then sent audio samples before getting the official invite.

â??I got a call saying, yes, that's the caliber we're looking for,â?? said Boyer. â??We work hard. For them to have this recognition and to be able to share the stageâ?¦ I see it as a camaraderie.â??

â??They're only one of four orchestras in all of North America that were invited this year,â?? explained Catherine Collins, whose freshman daughter plays viola in the orchestra.

The students are excited for the trip.

â??I want to play in the Kennedy center,â?? said Kurt Frick, TC Central bassist. â??It seems like it would be lots of fun. I've never really played in a big venue. It's a cool opportunity.â??

Boyer is antsy for the trip, too. â??I can't wait to walk out on that stage.â??

The students will represent northern Michigan with one of the pieces they've been rehearsing.

â??We're playing all-American pieces,â?? said Ivan Suminski, TC Central violinist. â??The last one we're playing is a symphony partially composed in Interlochen.â??

You can hear the music they'll be playing at a kick-off concert Thursday, February 27.

The trip has a high cost, both in time and money.

â??It's a time commitment for them. To not only come to school, but then to do their after school activities and other sports. Then they come here almost every Monday night. They practice at home, too,â?? said Collins.

The students found out about the opportunity last year, so they have been busy fundraising.

â??Way back in the fall at football games, I was running around the stands, yelling at people to buy bumper stickers and subway cards,â?? said Suminski. â??It's not just music skills that we work on. It's community skills. We're working toward a common goal.â??

The school's program involves around 60 students, and at $1,000 a head, there's a looming balance. They're looking for people in the community to step up and show support of the musicians.

â??There's a lot of music lovers in the area that maybe don't have a connection to the school and don't know about this,â?? said Collins.

â??Anything from a dollar on up. If $100 isn't possible, 10, 20; it all adds up,â?? said Boyer.

Collins is excited to join her daughter in D.C. as a chaperone.

All the sightseeing is going to be fun, but to be able to see my daughter play on a stage it'll be a once in a lifetime thing,â?? said Collins.

You can partner with the orchestra by sending a check to the school or by making a donation on the TCAPS website through the Partnering in Education page.