Curwensville Music Department Prepares to Perform at Universal Studios | New


CURWENSVILLE – In just a few short weeks, members of Curwensville Area Jr./Sr. High School’s music department will bring their award-winning performances to Orlando, Florida.

The Golden Tide march and the school’s high school choir were chosen in April to perform at Universal Studios. The marching band will perform on Monday, November 28 at 10 a.m. and the choir on Tuesday, November 29 at 10 a.m.

“Although the Curwensville Select Choir has performed in Florida before, Jacob (Mandel) and I wanted to provide the opportunity to make it a department trip, so that students who only participate in the choir would also have the chance to occur there. This will be the Senior Secondary Choir’s first visit to Florida and they are very excited about the idea. It’s been six years since the band last went to Florida. Normally the group goes there every four years, however the pandemic (COVID) thwarted our plans two years ago,” said group manager Robert Pennington.

The musicians and singers are delighted to have been chosen. “We’re very excited. The High School Marching Band and Choir have scheduled performances. The Marching Band will be marching in a parade at Universal Studios. The musicians will perform ‘Hillside March,’ a wonderful British-style march composed by Randall Standridge. The choir will perform a mix of pieces from his regular concert repertoire, plus four songs that span multiple traditions. Music will include, but not be limited to, arrangements of “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly”, “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” and “Carol of the Bells.” The choir will also perform an original arrangement of “Silent Night,” as well as a contemporary arrangement of the famous Welsh carol “Deck the Halls,” Pennington and choir director Jacob Mandel said.

Following their performances, the musicians and singers will also learn new skills. “The band and the choir will participate in separate sound design workshops. Students will learn how music and animation come together by experiencing life as film musicians. They will perform original underlines, create Foley effects and select digital sound effects for animated film scenes. The workshops connect to three artistic processes of the Core National Standards for the Arts: Create, Perform, and Respond. Within each of the artistic processes, the workshops will reinforce specific performance standards in composition/music theory, music technology and ensemble. The band will perform music from “The Secret Life of Pets” and the choir will sing music from “Trolls”. Students who are both in the group and the choir will be able to participate in all four events with the performances and the workshops. It will be a wonderful and memorable musical and educational experience,” said Pennington.

Pennington and Mandel said their students worked very hard to prepare for the trip. “On the band side, we had practices on Saturday to prepare for both the band performance and the workshops. We take five Saturdays to memorize walk music, add a routine, and make sure we look and sound our best when we’re in Florida. We also used that time to prep the music for the workshop so we sounded good for the recording,” Pennington said.

“The choir students participated in two ‘choir camps’ on two Saturdays in October and November. The high school choir officers did a great job of organizing each camp by providing games, themes, and food for the lunches, some of which were homemade. During these two camps, the students learned the music of the workshop as well as additional pieces that we had to prepare. Full-time choir students took time during study halls to practice outside of these rehearsals. Mandel explained.

The trip is one of the music program’s biggest expenses, and the pair said their students have been focused on raising the necessary funds for several months.

“We are always fundraising, not just for this trip, but for so many other things throughout the year. This is of course one of the biggest trips we take, but it is just one of many smaller trips that take place throughout the year. We do everything from traditional fundraisers where we sell things like candy, stromboli, and pastries, to more hands-on activities like car washes and operating the concession stand at sporting events. Our Student and Parent Music Leaders work extremely hard throughout the year to raise funds and enable our students to have experiences like this. We couldn’t do it without them,” Pennington said.

In addition to Universal Studios, the group will visit Walt Disney World on November 27, November 30 and December 1. They will leave for the return trip to Curwensville on December 2.

Both said they hoped for a successful trip and an opportunity for park visitors to experience the qualities they see in their classrooms every day. “Jacob and I are extremely proud of our students,” said Pennington. “They have shown extraordinary dedication to the music program, the school district, and themselves by embarking on this journey and putting in many extra hours of learning. Yes, it’s a fun trip where they can experience all the thrills of Florida’s amusement parks, but first and foremost it’s an opportunity to showcase all of the many talented students we have here in Curwensville.

“As directors, we want to make sure that we always provide such opportunities for our students. We know that for some, this might be the only time they travel to Disney World in their lifetime. We hope the experience will be something they will remember and cherish for the rest of their lives,” Pennington explained.

The two said they could not undertake the effort without the continued support received for both programs. “We want to thank our community who are so supportive of the music program in Curwensville. From parents to alumni and former parents of musicians to our colleagues and fans near and far, we appreciate the unwavering support and know that we will be seeing some of you during our time in Florida.

Those unable to make the trip can visit the Golden Tide Band Facebook page for photos, videos and updates on the trip.


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