A group of local students in the Fresno Pacific University Symphonic Band will travel to Chicago next week for a band festival that is considered to be a prestigious honor to attend.
The group is one of four bands who were invited to the Percy Grainger Wind Band Festival from April 1-2 in Chicago. Thirty-eight FPU students will be leaving on March 30 and for some it will be the first time they have flown on a plane. They will come back to Fresno on April 3. Bands had to apply to be selected.
Roselle Abad, a junior at FPU, described the festival as a “pretty big deal” and said this will be the first time she has been on a plane as an adult. Abad graduated from Hanford High School and attended West Hills College Lemoore before she transferred to FPU.
“Only four schools in the nation were invited,” Abad said. “That’s exciting.”
Abad said this is her first year in band with the university and it is the first year she has been playing the oboe which is a woodwind instrument.
“It’s been really hard for me, but I have been pushing myself to get better,” Abad said. “I have been working hard these past couple of months.”
Abad said she is excited to travel with her younger sister, Regine Abad, who is also in band and plays in percussion.
FPU percussionist Alyssa Ravelo said this is the first largest trip the band has ever taken. Ravelo graduated from Hanford West High School in 2014 and went straight to Fresno Pacific.
“I am absolutely excited to be attending this,” she said. “This is probably one of the biggest stages that I have performed on.”
The band will perform at Chicago’s Historic Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center which dates back to 1904 and can seat more than 2,500 people.
“I never thought that I would be playing in a concert hall in Chicago,” Ravelo said. “It’s just an honor to play.”
Ravelo said she cannot wait to travel and make memories with her peers especially for graduating seniors.
“It’s like a last hoorah for them,” she said.
“Overall, I am just really proud of my students,” said Erik Leung who is the band director at Fresno Pacific.
He said since the trip cost about $1,700 per student, students started raising money at the beginning of the school year. The band had a silent auction, bake sales, candy sales and a few others.
“The symphonic band has only been in existence for two years at the university,” Leung said. “In those two years students have done a great job.”
He said many students including himself, look forward in representing the Central Valley at the festival.
“I just think that this is a really cool opportunity because a lot of times the athletes get the spotlight and band gets overlooked,” said FPU trumpet player Tannisse Tuttrup, a Selma native.
Tuttrup said she hopes the festival will give the band a chance to be equally represented and recognized by the community as they do with sports. She added that national recognition is going to give band members motivation and improve self-esteem.
Tuttrup has participated in band since the fifth grade at Wilson Elementary School in Selma. She graduated from Selma High School in 2014.
“I’ve always been a trumpet player,” she said. “Everyone is my family has played trumpet.”
Roberto Cruz Jr., who plays trombone and is also from Selma, said it is an honor to be able to go to the festival and hopes to give audience members a sense of “what is going on in Fresno.”
“We have business to take care of,” Cruz said.