Newark Charter heads to London
Marching band will perform in parade, concert
For the Newark Charter School students heading to London to march in the New Year’s Day parade next week, it feels like a long time coming.
“For the seniors, they are the kids that I’ve been teaching since they were in fourth grade. So I’ve taught them for the better part of half their life,” said Sam DeLuca, band director. “This is kind of like that momentous, ‘We got here.’ Like I never would have expected or thought that we would ever gotten here when I started teaching those young fourth graders, nine years ago.”
British officials, including the deputy lord mayor of London, traveled to Newark last fall to formally invite the NCS band to join 8,000 other participants from 20 countries marching in the parade.
After a year of preparing for the occasion, the band members are heading to London this week to perform at St. John’s Smith Square on Saturday and march in the New Year’s Day Parade in front of millions.
“It’s organized chaos, and it’s kind of what I thrive on,” DeLuca said of the preparation.
Outside of booking flights and hotels for the 57 band members – plus another 40 parent chaperones, administrators and others – there has also been the preparation of the music itself.
For at least an hour each Wednesday, the band came together to practice. DeLuca said that they sometimes met more frequently, on top of regular classroom responsibilities and putting on a concert for the school.
The band prepared four songs – “Moonrise and Dance,” “Amber Moon,” “Fire Dance” and “At Sunrise” – which showcase the different groups of musicians.
“I’ve got a very strong low brass section going, so I’m able to feature them,” she said. “It’s been really cool to see how I’ve taken a bunch of kids, some who’ve played together and some who’ve never played together, and thrown them together to do this really, really great concert.”
DeLuca added that this is an experience of a lifetime for the students.
“I do hope that someday they look back and go, ‘Yeah, my band went to London. It was so cool.’ I hope that that’s the experience they get,” she said. “My husband went on this trip with A.I. DuPont High School and he still talks about it. It’s 25 years later.”
The excitement wasn’t lost on seniors Brendan Wilson and Gwen Ryan.
Ryan, a drum major who also plays flute and piccolo, said they spent a lot of time working to reach this point. She likened it to sixth grade, when the class saved up for a trip to Disney World.
“We didn’t think we would actually get there and then we went to Disney,” she said. “When we heard we were going to London, it was really shocking because we didn’t realize that we’d be able to do something like that.”
Wilson, who plays baritone, agreed.
“It really shows how much we’ve improved since starting the band,” he said. “A lot of us have been in band since fourth grade, and it really shows our improvement.”
Wilson was looking forward to marching in the parade and the planned sightseeing, while Ryan said she was most looking forward to the performance at St. John’s.
“There’s supposed to be perfect acoustics, and I think it’s going to sound really cool,” she said.
Both noted what a young band they are.
“We didn’t really think anything like this would happen while we were in school because we’re only the third graduating class, so we’re a really new high school, so we didn’t think we would come this far this quickly,” Ryan said.
DeLuca emphasized how proud she is of the students.
“They have worked so hard and they’re so dedicated to this,” she said. “I’m so proud of each and every single one of them for doing this.”
Both performances will be streamed live.
On Dec. 30, at 2:30 p.m. EST, the concert performance at St. John’s Smith Square can be viewed at tinyurl.com/NCSatStJohns.
On New Year’s Day, the parade can be viewed at tinyurl.com/NCSinLondon starting at 7 a.m. EST.
The Newark Charter marching band will perform at St. John’s Smith Square and march in the New Year’s Day Parade in London next week.