It all started with a nomination and audition tape for sophomores Kylie Buckham and Benjamin McWilliams. They were chosen to represent Gull Lake in New York City for the High School Honors Concert Choir and Symphony Orchestra.
Both McWilliams and Buckham practiced, learned and performed at Carnegie Hall from February 2 through February 6. They were nominated from over 18,000 students that auditioned in grades 10 through 12 from all over the world for the opportunity to perform.
McWilliams was nominated by Branden Burris, the GLHS Band and Choir Director and will be playing the only tuba spot in the orchestra.
Burris said that McWilliams is a dedicated musician who goes above and beyond to improve his musical abilities. Burris said that he nominated McWilliams, but that McWilliams earned it. [pullquote]
“Ben McWilliams is a joy to have as part of the GLHS Band Programs, and I am so proud of all of his hard work and achievements. If GLHS had a fine arts hall of fame, like athletics does, Ben would surely be inducted,” Burris said.
McWilliams has been in band since sixth grade, but didn’t start playing the tuba until seventh grade. He also plays the trombone, euphonium, piano, bass guitar, ukulele and guitar.
McWilliams travels the country to take lessons from the best tuba professors, plays in both the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra and Youth Brass Band of Battle Creek, and spends his summers traveling to different professional music camps.
“Even though Ben has playing abilities well beyond his years, he still takes the time to encourage the band tries to instill his musical experiences into the younger players,” Burris said.
Buckham was nominated by Fred Sang, Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus Director. Sang runs all four choirs in the KCC program and is the director of the touring choir that Buckham has been apart of since she was nine-years-old.
“I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, but it started getting serious when I joined the Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus in 4th grade,” Buckham said. “I really started to find passion and inspiration in music.”
Both students have put the time in and it has made it a possibility to be selected for this renowned program.
“I enjoy playing the tuba very much, and I think that enjoying it so much enriches every experience I have, making me audition for something every chance I get,” McWilliams said.[pullquote]
“I am most looking forward to performing with other kids from all over the nation who are just as interested in music as I am,” McWilliams said. “Also, the conductor of our orchestra is a very accomplished conductor from the Thornton School of Music.”
McWilliams was mostly excited to play in the famously historic music hall where orchestras from all over the world have performed world class concerts.
“I think I’m most looking forward to meeting new people who are dedicated musicians and also seeing the city,” Buckham said. “And performing at Carnegie hall, of course.”