About 170 members of the Chelsea High School band, orchestra and choir are getting ready to pack their bags for Philadelphia where they will perform at the National Heritage Music Festival next week.
But before then, many of them will play in a special music department fundraising concert Saturday, April 13, at 7 p.m. in the Chelsea High School auditorium.
Cousins Becca and Ben Whitesall will be among the musicians taking the trip.
For Becca Whitesall, a senior, this is her second music trip. She went to Nashville with the music department as a sophomore.
The clarinet player and band uniform manager was described as a “strong senior leader,” by Band Director Rick Catherman.
Becca Whitesall says she comes from a musical family — both her mom and dad play instruments and her oldest sister sings.
“Becca is one of my favorite students of all time,” said teacher Art Finger, who added, “She’s an amazing kid with a heart of gold.”
Becca Whitesall admits she struggled with her school work as a freshman, and got a lot of help from Finger, who taught her “how to approach things better.”
With his help, she’s now a straight A student, and music has played an important part in her turnaround.
“Music is a release; a way to find emotion,” she says.
Music also led her to becoming part of a group, to belong, she says. “I made friends through music, plus, it gives me a break from the harder classes.”
For Ben Whitesall, a sophomore, music is a passion. He’s been playing an instrument since he was in fifth grade, and he’s excited about both his first band trip as well as his first trip to Philadelphia.
Ben Whitesall says he took up the bassoon in 7th grade and then the baritone sax.
“Yeah, people think I’m nuts because it’s the hardest instrument to march with,” he says, “But I like it because it sounds so good.”
During the concert, he says, he’ll play both instruments.
The linebacker and special teams’ player says he got involved in band following in the footsteps of two of his cousins.
“I thought it was cool that they were in band,” he says, adding that the band is “like a family.”
And, although he’s out on the field playing football, “My head’s in football, but my heart’s with the band.”
Saturday’s fundraiser replaces the annual Faculty and Friends Show and raises money for the Chelsea Music Boosters. Tickets are $5. (Or, any additional amount you’d like to donate.)
Following the concert, the music department has a few more days of practice before they leave Wednesday night, April 17 for the tour that will include a visit to Penn State University where they will attend music clinics with university faculty.
And, they’ll even have time to do some sight-seeing while on the trip.