St. Helena High School choir students took the stage at Carnegie Hall at the end of March, shortly after the jazz band and concert band won top honors at a competition held in New York.
St. Helena band students competing in the WorldStrides Heritage Festival won three of the six Maestro awards for outstanding soloists: Maya Johnson for best vocalist, David Meyer for best piano soloist, and Megan Schweiger for best trombone soloist.
“I was very happy to see these kids do so well,” said director Alba Gonzalez-Arredondo. “Three out of six – that’s big. And overall, everybody did a nice job.”
The awards earned Johnson, Meyer and Schweiger invitations to perform in Vienna, Austria; London, England; and New York again. Gonzalez-Arredondo said she’s not sure if any or all of them will be able to accept.
“I’ve always found music to be an escape, a sort of freedom from life’s struggles,” said Schweiger, a sophomore. “It’s so amazing to be able to be invited to play in New York, England and Austria. It gives me a chance to share my love of music with other people who probably feel the same way about music.”
As a unit, the jazz band won a gold award, improving on the silver it won last year, and the concert band won silver.
As the bands were competing, the choir was getting ready to perform with 380 singers in the next day’s non-competitive festival at the world-famous Carnegie Hall.
Johnson, a junior who performs in the jazz band, concert band and choir, said New York City was “a beautiful place to be inspired.”
“I think one of the best things about performing was singing on the same stage the Beatles did,” Johnson said. “I think that’s pretty cool.”
Senior David Meyer called the trip “an amazing learning experience.”
“We got to work with high-caliber musicians, experience new things, and make wonderful memories together,” Meyer said.
Gonzalez-Arredondo thanked Isabel Rubalcava, Andy Schweiger and Anya Pierce for chaperoning the trip and assisting the students.
An earlier version of this article misstated Schweiger's musical instrument. She plays the trombone.