November 24, 2004
The Sugar Bowl. Carnegie Hall. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Music groups across the East Valley are taking center stage at prominent national events this week and the coming months.
Thursday, Gilbert’s Highland High School will be one of 10 bands nationwide featured in the Macy’s parade.
Mountain View High School in Mesa will take off on Dec. 31 for New Orleans to play in the Sugar Bowl. Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale will travel to London to play in England’s New Year’s Day parade.
The orchestra, band and chorus at Dobson High School in Mesa won invitations to play at Carnegie Hall on June 5. And Chandler High School was just named as the only Arizona band to play at the 2006 Fiesta Bowl.
While impressive, it’s not a new occurrence.
Last school year, Mesa’s Mountain View High School performed in China. In 2001, Gilbert High School played for President Bush’s inauguration.
Highland also just sent its orchestra to Carnegie Hall in the last school year.
To the East Valley’s high school music community, it’s not about one school’s band being better than another.
It’s about a shared love of performing. "They all support one another," said Highland principal Ken James. "I think everybody pulls for everybody else. They see each other all the time."
Mountain View band director Scott Burgener said so many East Valley bands are in the spotlight because of "a high level of commitment from the students and an incredible amount of parent support."
Dobson student Maria Konopken, 18, is just excited to make her grandma proud when she fulfills her high school music dream of playing at Carnegie Hall.
The elder Konopken once dreamed of dancing on stage at Carnegie Hall.
"It will be something a lot of my family was not able to do," Konopken said. "My grandmother always wanted to go there. She’s really proud. She keeps saying: ‘Practice, practice, practice.’"