Amador wind ensembles perform at Carnegie Hall in New York


Band directors Jonathan Grantham and Edwin Cordoba take a selfie with the two wind ensembles during their morning soundcheck before their performance. (Photo provided by Amador Valley Bands.)

Amador Valley Wind Ensemble I & II joined together on a trip to New York and performed at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday, April 11 for the first time since 2018. 

“The two Wind Ensembles don’t normally play together, so this was 95 students of classmates and friends in different band periods that came together for the Carnegie concert so it was really special to get to do that together,” said band director Jonathan Grantham.

The students took their trip after months of preparation that began in August. The Wind Ensembles had joint class periods during times like A-period before school to practice and collaborate.

“It was really cool because this is where every single musical talent has gone to perform and it was nice that as a high school group, we could perform our music and things we’ve been working on for a whole year,” said Dhwani Shetty (23’).

Experiencing such a grand hall comes with its pressures. Yet, each smaller concert before the Carnegie concert was a stepping stone that helped them gain the experience and confidence the Wind Ensembles needed to succeed. 

“There’s some pressure playing in a big and nice place like Carnegie Hall but it was cool [performing] and everyone was clapping after,” said Paul Beckley (25’).

Both Wind Ensemble classes are audition-based. This ensures that they consist of some of the best band musicians at Amador. 

“[The pressure] was not bad at all. It was very free forming because the environment was all band kids and they all just wanted to hear and make music together so it wasn’t stressful,” said Shetty.

After five years, this was the Wind Ensemble’s second opportunity for performing at Carnegie Hall in Amador’s history. The performance hall, founded in 1891, has its own musical history of 132 years.

“The hall is phenomenal. You kind of feel the history and importance of the space as soon as you walk onto the stage. Seeing the students as they came on stage, [watching] their eyes take in the space, was one of my favorite moments,” said Grantham.

To match the historical significance of Carnegie Hall, the Wind Ensembles played a powerful piece inspired by Lift Every Voice called Of Our New Day Begun. The music was especially impactful due to the way the hall is designed to create the right echoes. 

“The music we played was really powerful. We did a piece based on the black national anthem and that piece was particularly inspiring so there were a lot of big feelings around the concert that night,” said Grantham.