Fitch Marching Band to perform in London’s New Year’s Day Parade

December 29, 2018

Groton — After hours and hours of practice, Robert E. Fitch High School students will be showcasing their musical talent on an international stage.

The Robert E. Fitch High School Marching Band is participating in the London New Year’s Day Parade on Tuesday.

The students, wearing uniforms in their school colors of red and black, will perform “Tonight,” a Leonard Bernstein piece from “West Side Story,” and a tribute to American classical composer Aaron Copland. They will march 2 miles through the streets of London and perform a 2-minute show at the grandstand.

“It’s a great experience for the kids,” Band Director Andrew Lefebvre said. “The kids work hard, and this is reaping the benefits of hard work.”

About 95 students from the high school’s music ensembles, along with parent chaperones and staff, gathered Thursday at the high school before boarding buses to the airport for the international trip for the New Year’s Day Parade and Festival in London.  

The Robert E. Fitch High School Concert Choir was scheduled to perform during a concert Saturday at Southwark Cathedral, while the String Orchestra and Concert Choir, Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band were scheduled to perform during a Saturday concert at St. John’s Smith Square, according to the London New Year’s Day Parade website. The Concert Choir also will perform during the London International Choral Festival at Westminster Central Hall on Jan. 2.

The students additionally will tour attractions, such as the Tower of London, and visit Greenwich, Oxford and Windsor.

Ben Traverso, 16, a junior at Fitch and member of the marching band who plays lead trumpet, said the students have been “playing nonstop” and rehearsing three days a week in preparation for the performance. He called it a “once in a lifetime experience.”

Abby Rogers, 16, a junior and marching band member who performs the alto saxophone, said she was looking forward to going to England and experiencing the different atmosphere there. 

“It’s just an honor to go, and we’re really, really excited,” she said.

The plan to perform in the parade began with USBands recommending Fitch, Lefebvre said.

Robert Davis, the deputy lord mayor of Westminster, and Bob Bone, executive director of London’s New Year’s Day Parade and Festival, then visited Fitch High School in September 2017 with an official invitation for the students to participate in the event.

The band is one of about 15 high school marching bands from the United States that will be participating in the parade, according to the lineup on the parade’s website.

The trip is $3,000 per student, Lefebvre said.

Clare Rogers, a chaperone on the trip and mother to Abby, said parents and students have been organizing the trip and fundraising for more than a year.

“The day is finally here,” Rogers said. “We’re so excited.”

She said it will be an amazing opportunity for the students who have never traveled abroad to learn the history of England and tour the sites. It also will be a really good educational experience for them to mingle with students from other countries and learn from and listen to other musical ideas and practices.

“We’re excited,” said John Frascarelli, choir and orchestra director. “Traveling has changed my life and being a musician has been the main reason I’ve been able to travel throughout my career, so to do that with my own students and with the school is an honor.”

Grace Clarke, 18, a senior who plays mellophone and is a drum major in the marching band, also was eager to go to Europe, which she said would be an “entirely new experience” for her. She said she hopes the performance goes well and is trying not to have too many expectations for it, but she is really proud of her bandmates’ hard work.

“I’m really proud of everyone in the band and how far they’ve come,” she said.

Clarke encouraged people in the community to tune in and watch the parade, which will start Jan. 1 at noon in England’s time zone, or 7 a.m. Eastern Standard Time in the United States, and will be livestreamed, since the students have worked really hard on it.

“We’re really excited to show everybody our progress,” Clarke said.

Viewers can watch the performances through livestream links posted on the Falcon Music Boosters website at bit.ly/FalconBoosters.


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