The HBA high school wind ensemble went to Disneyland during Spring Break to perform at the Anaheim Heritage Festival and won a silver award.
This is the first time that an HBA high school band has taken part in a competition on the mainland. The event featured schools from all over the country and took place over the first weekend of Spring Break. For long time band members, the trip was a dream come true. “I couldn’t believe this trip actually happened because Mr. Shimizu mentioned a trip two years ago but we never went on one. Just thinking about this trip is surreal with all of the things that we did,” said senior flute player Kaitlyn Mukai.
On Thursday, March 20, the band—consisting of 53 students—checked in at the Honolulu airport with their instruments and arrived in Los Angeles that night. “Although we had to be at the airport at five in the morning, it was relaxing since we could rest and just think about the trip,” said junior trombone player Michael Dang.
The next morning, the band made its way to Sunny Hills High School, the site of the festival. Band director Brad Shimizu had made prior arrangements to rent some of the larger instruments locally. When the band got ready to warm up in the rehearsal room, junior tuba player David Lee discovered that his rental tuba was not one he could play. “[It] was a tuba that we were not trained to play,” he said. “We usually play the C tuba but the one that I was given to was the B flat tuba.”
“I thought that the students played very well under the circumstances and represented HBA well.”
Band director Brad Shimizu
A few other low brass players also had rental instruments that did not work. Minutes before the band was due on stage, it seemed like these players would miss their chance to perform. Fortunately at the last minute, the Sunny Hills band department was able to lend the HBA players their instruments at Shimizu’s request. Looking back, Shimizu said, “We learned that you do the best that you can and there are always things that are outside of your control. That was a very educational experience.”
Following the performance, the band was rewarded with a trip to Universal Studios. Students went on movie-themed rides such as Jurassic Park, Revenge of the Mummy, and Transformers 3D. On their way back to the hotel that night, they stopped over for an ice cream party at the home of vice principal and trip chaperone Ryan Frontiera’s parents. The gathering was a chance for the band to hang out as a large group. “I enjoyed the warmth of his family,” senior tuba player Jason Shon said. “They really made us feel like part of the family, and I want to thank Aunty Julie and Uncle Rob for their hospitality.”
The band spent the next day in Disneyland and attended the festival awards ceremony that evening at the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree Stage. The ceremony opened with a song and dance performance by Disney characters and Merlin the wizard introduced the festival judges. On their silver award, Mukai said, “I knew we were capable of playing way better than how we did, but a silver was nice for the band’s first competition ever.”
According to Shimizu, the main goal of the trip was to see what it would be like to prepare the band to play for people other than their friends and family. He said, “I thought that the students played very well under the circumstances and represented HBA well. [They] worked very hard; we met often—after school and on breaks—and we learnt how to stick with one thing, and to try and play it as often as we could.” He added that the trip was also an opportunity for the students to bond with each other.
Senior Kevin Cho said, “The trip was an opportunity for HBA’s band program to experience playing in a competitive setting, and it was a good time to bond with our classmates.” Junior trumpet player Sydney Lau added, “The most memorable part was running around Disneyland, and becoming closer to a bunch of my band mates.”
On Sunday, the last day of the trip, the band attended a worship service at The Rock church in Anaheim, and spent the afternoon at the Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade before heading to the airport. “Biking all the way to Venice Beach was probably the highlight of the day,” said senior baritone player Caleb Miyasato, whose chaperone group rented bicycles from the pier. Other students spent their time shopping at the promenade or going on rides at the pier.
Shimizu plans to provide this performance experience for future members of the wind ensemble and said that the trip will take place every two years.
Photographs by Eunice Sim & Ryan Frontiera