STAR-BULLETIN / DECEMBER 2005
Pearl City High School Band drum major Chad Tomas goes through warm-ups prior to practice.
Pearl City marching band to play in China next year
Students will perform as part of a youth fest and have kicked off fundraising efforts
The Pearl City High School Marching Band will play the Great Wall of China in nine months.
The Pearl City Charger band will join other bands from several countries to perform at the Beijing Olympic International Youth Festival in July. The event celebrates China's first-ever Olympic Games in 2008.
"It's really awesome. It's a really a great opportunity to step up the expectations of ourselves and to represent our school and America and show what people our age can do," said Max Louie, Pearl City band president.
TOP PEARL CITY PERFORMANCES
2006, 2000, 1996, 1984, 1980: Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
2003: Hollywood Christmas Parade
2002: First Hawaiian Football Classic halftime show at Aloha Stadium
2001, 1989, 1993: Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City
1999: First Hawaii State Football Championship halftime show
1997: Blue and Gray Classic in Alabama
1986: Ginza Parade in Tokyo
1980, 1983-2000: Pro Bowl
1976-present: University of Hawaii football halftime show
Online Video: Pearl City High School Marching Band Halftime Show, 2000
The 10-day trip will be the first international trip for many of the 180 band members plus 30 to 40 hula dancers. The band has performed in Japan and New York and marched in the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena, Calif., but has never been to China.
"It's a great honor," said Chad Kamei, who is serving in his first year as band director. "How can we top this? We'll be the first band to play on the moon," he joked.
Band members and parents kicked off the China trip's fundraiser yesterday, selling chocolates and Jamba Juice cards to pay for the trip. The cost per student: $2,600.
Louie is confident he will secure the funds for the trip. "You can do it if you work hard," he said.
The band was planning an October trip to Japan next year when Kamei received a call two weeks ago asking him if his band would go to China.
Ninety percent of the parents voted to go to China, despite the shortened fundraising period, Kamei said.
The Chinese American Cultural Bridge Center invited Pearl City to perform in China. The organization, based in Chicago, helps China hold cultural exchanges with America.
Rebecca Ji, executive director of the center, said in a telephone interview that the festival celebrates the spirit of the Olympics and opens China to the world. Each participating country, such as Greece, Ireland and Singapore, will send two bands each, giving students the opportunity to tour China and meet other musicians, Ji said.
In Beijing the bands will march in a parade for "thousands and thousands" of people, Ji said. They will perform in the Olympics Cultural Square and at the Great Wall in Mu Tian Yu, where athletes will light the 2008 Olympic torch. At the Great Wall, the bands together will perform one song related to the Olympics.
"It's very powerful," Ji said. "You do not know the same language, but you play the same song and have the same spirit."
STAR-BULLETIN / NOVEMBER 2003
Trombone players line up during rehearsal for the Pearl City marching band. The Chicago-based Chinese American Cultural Bridge Center has invited the band to perform in China.
Pearl City's marching band and the accompanying hula halau impressed Ji with their performance in the Tournament of Roses parade in January. Ji said she liked the band's Hawaiian flavor.
Louie said people light up when the band passes.
"We try to (exude) the aloha spirit," he said.
The second U.S. band, still unconfirmed, is from the East Coast, Ji said.
Kari Bailey, a band parent, said, "It's just such a great experience for the kids."
Louie said, "I think the most important thing we can do there is contribute to the parade and represent Hawaii and Pearl City. Now we're representing Hawaii to the world."