Of the 79 students in the orchestra program, 21 traveled to Washington, and those students had their hand in securing the silver performance award.
Orchestra director Chris Mosley said it has been preparing since September.
“They rehearsed a lot,” he said. “We rehearsed every Saturday for three months preparing for this. I wanted to challenge them. I knew they could do it, but I needed them to know that they could do it.”
Mosley said lining up everything for the trip, however, was just as much effort, because they were not informed of the competition until mid-September.
“It was an amazing experience but a lot of work,” he said. “It was something that the previous director was working on.”
Much more than amping up the orchestra’s level of musicianship to be in tip-top shape for the competition, Mosley’s reason for not turning down the invitation, although finding out about it late, was much bigger than pushing them to perform at their best.
“I needed to get them out of the city to see something bigger than East Point and even metro Atlanta,” he said. “I wanted to get them out and broaden their horizons. It was an eye-opening experience for many of them.”
Preselah Seymore, one of the students who made the trip, said she enjoyed it.
“It was amazing,” she said. “The experience was great. I love being on stage and getting the critiques from the critics that were judging us.”
Seymore found helpful one piece of advice in particular.
“They said that we have two ears, one to listen to our violin and one to listen to everyone around us,” she said. “That helped me and it will help me as a musician to listen to everyone.”
The students also had the opportunity to see the presidential inauguration from the steps on the capitol.
Seymore said it was the icing on the cake for the weekend.
“That is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” she said. “That just changed me as a person — period.”