Come January, Emily Anderson, 16, and Kelsey Montalto, 15, won’t be welcoming in 2017 by watching the Rose Parade from the comfort of the living room sofa while lounging in their PJs, sipping some hot cocoa.
The Yosemite High School sophomores, and best friends, will instead be marching down Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard, playing with the Bands of America Honor Band - Anderson on trombone, and Montalto on saxophone.
“To be selected for this opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for students and a testimony to their excellence and achievements,” Music for All (MFA) president and CEO Eric Martin said. “Kelsey and Emily will be two of only 300 members chosen to be part of the Bands of America Honor Band, and their participation deserves the admiration and support of everyone in their community.”
Bands of America, which represents all 50 states, is a program of MFA, one of the nation’s largest and most influential organizations supporting active music making.
“I’m really excited,” Anderson exclaimed. “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 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.”
Montalto practiced two hours daily for a week before sending in her audition tape.
“I’m very honored and excited to go to Pasadena,” she said. “We not only get to play in the Rose Parade, but we get to decorate our float, play at the Rose Bowl, and play on Main Street in Disneyland.”
“This is a chance of a lifetime,” Anderson added, “and only happens every four years, so getting picked is such an honor.”
Montalto smiled and nodded in agreement. The two were selected from hundreds of applications across the nation.
“We are very fortunate and honored to have two members of our program receive the opportunity to participate in the Bands of America Tournament of Roses Honor Band,” YHS music director Francisco Marquez said. “Small town high schools such as YHS rarely receive an opportunity to have students march in the ‘Super Bowl’ of Marching Band events. Both Kelsey and Emily are among our top musicians and leaders within the Yosemite High Band Program. They have been model students to their peers and we look forward to watching them grow through this experience of a lifetime."
The trip begins Dec. 28, and the girls will return home Jan. 3. Until then, they have their work cut out for them. The pair must come up with a plan to fund the trip at a price tag of $3,000 each.
Anderson has set up a gofundme account ( gofundme.com/22dk8a4, Emily Anderson’s Rose Parade Trip), and Montalto will do so soon. The two also plan on holding several fundraisers to acquire the monies needed.
Emily is the daughter of Bruce and Martha, and Kelsey is the daughter of Steve and Stacey.
The 128th Rose Parade can be seen 8 a.m. (PST), Jan. 2. Tens of millions worldwide watch the telecast each year, and more than 750,000 spectators vie for top seating along the 5.5-mile parade route.