Yosemite High juniors Emily Anderson, 16, and Kelsey Montalto, 15, are back in Oakhurst after welcoming the New Year as members of the 255-piece Bands of America Honor Band that marched along Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena for six miles in the Jan. 2 televised Rose Parade.
“Last year, my friend, Emily Anderson, and I auditioned to participate in the Bands of America Honor Band that would march in the Rose Parade and to our disbelief, we both selected - Emily on trombone and myself on the alto sax,” Montalto said. ”We were very excited to be a part of a marching band that would represent all of the states across America, as our present band director, Francisco Marquez, had done in 2009.”
The band participates in the Rose Parade every four years.
For the teens, it was one of the best weeks in their young lives.
“Going into a situation where I only knew one person out of a 255 member group was intimidating,” Montalto continued. “The first day was only meant to get us all ready for what was to come, but it was also the basis for forming many friendships. In just one day, I went from a small high school band to one of the most prestigious marching bands in the nation with a world class staff. We had performances at Long Beach City College, Disneyland, Bandfest, and countless hours of preparation for the big day.”
“I will miss all of the friends that I made from New Jersey, Texas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Alabama, and everyone else I met along the way,” Montalto said. “It was amazing. I’ll never forget the memories we made, and although we only met for a short time, I hope to see them all again in the future. When Bands of America sends another Honor Band to the Rose Parade in four years, I plan on trying to see it one way or the other. To fully capture this experience in words is impossible.The one thought I can leave you with is that it was life-changing and unforgettable.”
“I didn’t make it through my first audition, but about a week later, I got an email saying I had a lot of potential, and to submit another tape,” Anderson said.
Anderson practiced and practiced for a week before submitting a second tape, and this time she was selected.
“This was a good lesson and a good experience for me,” Anderson said. “It taught me to work harder and to not give up when things don’t go as planned the first time.”
Anderson said in addition to the parade and performances, the band was able to participate in a number of fun activities.
“We went on a LA city tour, visited Huntington Beach, ate at the Hard Rock Cafe and dined at a fancy Italian Restaurant, Buca De Beppos.”
Anderson said she was honored to be given the privilege to be a part of the band.
“It was clear that everyone in the band shared the passion for music and in one week we all became family,” Anderson said. “ I’ve learned and grew so much during this experience. It was the best week of my life and I will never forget it.”
Emily is the daughter of Bruce and Martha Anderson and Kelsey is the daughter of Steve and Stacey Montalto.