Symphonic Winds to perform at American Musical Salute

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LHS ensemble band takes trip of a lifetime to New York City

By Reece Murphy

Members of Lancaster High School’s Symphonic Winds are gearing up for a trip to New York City next week, where they’re scheduled to take part in a national performance aboard the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid.

The ensemble’s 40 students will represent South Carolina on Friday, April 26, during The American Musical Salute, a national concert series featuring music programs from across the county.

LHS band director John Rhodes said the students and chaperones will board buses and leave for the Big Apple late Wednesday.

“Our young musicians have been looking forward to this opportunity for a long time,” Rhodes said. “This type of performance usually comes only once in a student’s lifetime.”

Rhodes said the ensemble is made up of musicians from the school’s various bands and band classes, many of whom are in leadership positions within those groups.

The ensemble’s playlist, Rhodes said, includes the National Anthem and other patriotic songs, an armed forces salute featuring a medley of service songs, the Irish hymn “Be Thou My Vision,” as well as “We Are Good Sandlappers.”

“Anytime you go far away from South Carolina, that’s a good one to play because it’s kind of our state march,” Rhodes said of the song that celebrated the state’s tricentennial in 1970.

“They’re all good musicians and they’re all responsible young ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “A lot of times, the ones who go the extra mile to participate in something like this are going to represent themselves well.”

This is not the first time Lancaster High School bands have performed on the national stage.

In addition to a 2007 performance in New York City, the band has also played Atlanta, Tampa, Orlando and Williamsburg, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Rhodes said the band was asked to play next week’s performance after a 2011 appearance at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington, D.C..

In addition to the performance, students will also get a chance to see and experience New York in all its big-city glory, from seeing the sights to dining at “fancy restaurants” to “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway.

Rhodes said while the performance is the most important part of the trip for him, for students, sometimes its more about how they grow being part of a team experience such as this.

Among the lessons, Rhodes said, is the importance of dedication and teamwork students learned through participation in the many fundraisers that helped pay for the trip.

In the end, Rhodes said he hopes that by experiencing a far away and much different place, students will learn both about the world at large and the place they call home.

“I’m excited about it, but they’re really excited,” Rhodes said. “We’re just glad to have the chance to go and represent Lancaster and hopefully we’ll bring back some good memories.

“I want them to grow a little bit and see that there’s a great big world out there with a lot of opportunities,” he said, “and when they come home, that they can not only tell their friends about it, but that they’re aware of the importance of the small-town values we have here.”


Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151.