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If, as Roger Miller sang, England swings as a pendulum do, then it was because the Austin High Maroon Band was there doing the swinging and getting 2011 off to a great start. I had the opportunity to join a group of Maroon Band parents in the viewing stand of the 25th anniversary New Year's Day Parade in London as the Maroon Band marched by.
With an estimated half million spectators, the Band followed the historic parade route, marching by Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, and the Houses of Parliament. When they played "The Eyes of Texas," many in the crowd sang along.
Not only was their performance representative of their usual all-star caliber, but I was very impressed by the professional and all-star caliber of their performance away from the parade route as well. They took advantage of every opportunity to see the sights and experience the culture of London. Just as they all marched together in the parade, none of them strayed from the high expectations we have for them.
The students reported being overwhelmed by the size of Windsor Castle. They journeyed to Greenwich and saw the Prime Meridian. They also went to Oxford, viewing the University and the haunts of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien.
Austin High School Band performing in Cadogan Hall
In London, they toured Westminster and Parliament and walked along the Thames River. They also gave a performance in Cadogan Hall, home of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The students and their audience described the sound as "amazing."
Thanks to the Austin High band leaders—Brian Frock, Peter Acosta, and Steve Cobb. They've not only trained great musicians, but they've helped develop great world citizens.
Band parent chaperones Lin Gonzalez and Linda Payne
This trip and performance would not have been possible without the dedication of the Austin Maroon Band parents, who helped raise the money, put together the itinerary, served as chaperones and guides, and even got to attend the parade. It was a great event, and I was thrilled and honored to be part of it.
At the parade, I literally ran all over London - up and down streets - to track the students along the way so that we would be at the final judging station at the end. We cheered and cheered and cheered when they danced part of their half time show with the high step. The crowd went wild!
Thanks to the musicians of the Austin High Maroon Band, who made us proud on a world stage.
If you would like to watch the parade, it can be found at tinyurl.com/2ed55pv. The Maroon Band appears at the 2-hour, 26-minute mark in the four-hour video.