Music students at Fitch High School in Groton are ringing in the New Year with a big honor—they were invited overseas to participate in London’s New Year’s Day Parade and Festival.
Thursday close to 100 band, orchestra and choir students boarded planes for London.
“I’ve been practicing since summer. Nonstop. Just nonstop practicing. But it’s all going to be worth it in the end,” said junior Ben Traverso. He plays trumpet in the band.
The Fitch Falcon Marching Band was a specially selected American band to play in the parade for a street audience organizers estimate tops 500,000 and a TV audience that last year reached more than 300 million people.
“It’s a huge honor. Some of the kids have never been overseas before so it’ll be a first experience for a lot of them. I don’t think it’s even hit them ‘til they arrive,” said Director of Bands Andrew Lefebvre.
Lefebvre has led his students to compete in National Championships. The band has taken the top spot in their class several times in USBands National and New England States Championships.
Band members practiced three hours after school twice a week, every week, and all day Saturday since August, Lefebvre said. A few band graduates from last year are also coming on the trip.
“Super excited! It’s a big honor to be able to go over there and be invited so we’re thrilled,” said junior Abby Rogers who plays alto saxophone with the band.
The orchestra and choir will be holding balloons in the parade, Lefebvre said.
The three groups are performing in a concert series at St. John’s Square. The choir is also singing in the London International Choral Festival.
Choral and Orchestra Director John Frascarelli said the students will get to experience England. They’ll see the main sights, including Big Ben and the Tower of London, and will also explore Greenwich and Windsor.
“You try to broaden their experience,” Frascarelli said. “It’s not just about the classroom. It’s about so much more than that. So we hope they give great performances, we hope that they love the history of London, we hope that they meet people and have a great time.”
“I can’t describe it. It’s just amazing. I’m very grateful and happy that we get to go,” said sophomore cellist Janell Payumo.
It’s the first time some parents are separating from their children for this long.
“I’m being brave for the camera, but I’ll probably get a little weepy afterwards,” said dad Steve Servidio.
Mom Christy Rose opted to chaperone. She’ll be there to see her daughter’s choir solo. It’s the first time out of the country for both of them.
“I don’t think we slept much last night. We’re very excited! Thank goodness the flight’s overnight,” Rose said.