Members of East Ridge Middle School Spartans symphonic band will be at Downtown Disney’s Marketplace the day after school ends, on June 7.
The 45 advanced music students won’t be meeting there for pure recreation however, but to play on the main stage at the marketplace, an opportunity that’s rare because of the screening and audition process Disney requires of any group interested in making an appearance.
Band Director Robert Walker was recently notified of their performance last month after having submitted an online application and audition video of the band for the chance to play there earlier this year.
This is the first time that any of his East Ridge Middle School groups have played at Disney. Minneola Elementary’s fifth grade choir performed there in February.
“I was looking for an opportunity outside of the annual scholastic events that would celebrate the success of our student musicians, and give them an opportunity to share their music with others at a whole new level,” Walker said. “There are opportunities outside of Disney where your group can pay for admission and get in for a performance, but I wanted us to work for this and earn it. That is why I chose the route of the audition. Effort was necessary to prepare and demonstrate that we were ready.”
On Friday during class, some of Walker’s students shared their feelings about the approaching performance.
“I think playing there will help us grow more in music and give us more experience,” said oboe player Nicole Walker, 12, the only seventh grader in the group that is made up of mostly eighth grade advanced-music students. “I feel excited and I think it says a lot about our band because they probably listen to a lot of audition tapes. It’s cool they picked ours.”
“They have such high standards but knowing they picked us felt really good,” said Salvatore Como, 14, an eighth grader who has been playing trumpet for nearly three years.
Walker shares his students’ sentiments, but that didn’t cause him to go easy on the group during Friday’s classroom rehearsal, talking to them after a rehearsal of highlights from the Disney movie Frozen about staying in tune leading up to the final crescendo.
He also talked to them about proper posture, breathing; and maybe because of the excitement surrounding their impending Disney performance, Walker asked the students to imagine what Cinderella movie characters their instruments could represent.
The students have one more week to prepare for their performance, which will include songs like John Williams’ Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Pharrell Williams’ Happy and classical pieces.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be selected,” Walker said. “Many excellent groups perform on this stage, and now we join the ranks. It is a good opportunity for our students as it allows them to take their music outside of the school and perform for a whole new audience.”
Anyone interested in attending the Disney performance in support of the East Ridge Middle School Symphonic Band can do so by arriving at the Marketplace located at 1490 E. Buena Vista Drive in Orlando before 1:30 p.m. when the students are expected on stage.