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LHS Band makes final preparations for London trip

Photo used with permission from Lancer Music.
The Marching Lancers have spent the last year rehearsing and fundraising in preparation for their upcoming trip to London where they will be performing selections of Motown music for the New Year’s Day Parade.

For the past several months the music of Motown has filled the halls of LHS, as the Marching Lancers rehearse in preparation for their trip to London for the New Year’s Day parade. Music director Serge Beaulieu and assistant band director Emily Dawson have been planning this event since January 2023. 

“We got an email from the scouting group in November or December [2022] and I forwarded it to Mr. Beaulieu, and he did all of the behind-the-scenes work,” Dawson said. “We told the students in January we were going next year and ever since then it’s been fundraising, planning, getting passports and tickets.”

A lot of work has gone into planning out the band’s routine to best fit the TV viewing area of the parade, where on New Year’s Day at 7 a.m. on the PBS broadcast, people around the world will see the band performing. 

“That’s probably been the hardest part,” Beaulieu said. “Just to figure out what we were going to do for that because we have a timeframe. We can’t go past two minutes.”

This trip took months to prepare in order for the band to be ready for their parade performance as this is the first time the band has traveled to London.

“The parade organizers have been instrumental in our planning process, even inviting [Beaulieu] and junior drum major Nathan Beaulieu to London over the summer to get a better idea of the band’s itinerary,” senior drum major Lauren Fontaine said. “It seems that our staff is very well prepared and is running a well-oiled machine. I can’t wait to get to London to see their hard work pay off.” 

When choosing which songs to use, Beaulieu and Dawson worked to find music that would translate best to a worldwide audience.

“The staff and I got some ideas from students and we talked about music that would translate well to a British crowd,” Beaulieu said. “For the most part we ended up settling on the Motown music for the TV area because we just thought it had a pretty worldwide appeal.”

Along with performing in the the parade, members of the concert band will participate in a concert in London.

“We’re also doing a gala concert, so the concert bands will be performing what they did [in the winter concert] in a church which is really cool,” Dawson said. “Not only do they get to do marching band stuff, they also get to do a concert band performance for the public.” 

Each of the songs for the concert gala were selected by Dawson herself.

“It was all carefully planned,” Dawson said. “We picked both holiday tunes and stuff that was relevant to London. The symphonic band is playing traditional tunes like “Greensleeves” and Hanukkah tunes and “Carnegie Anthem,” which is based around Carnegie Hall, a major New York landmark, bringing more of that American tradition into London.”

A lot of excitement has been built up among the band members as the day they leave for London approaches.

“Personally, I can’t wait to see and perform near the incredible sights that London has to offer,” Fontaine said, “and as a bit of a history nerd, to see historical landmarks like Windsor Castle and the Tower of London.”

The band will be leaving on Dec. 27 and staying for seven days with an itinerary of what they’ll do on each day.

“We’re going to start out with some sightseeing the first two days, and they’ll also be catching up on sleep with the time change,” Beaulieu said. “The third day we’re doing our concert band performance and then when we get to January 1, that’s the day of the parade, and then we’re doing more sightseeing and we’re going to all the tourist attractions.”

With a trip of this magnitude, the band has been doing a lot of fundraising and receiving help from nearby businesses to cover the costs.

“I was really happy with how the community helped out with this,” Beaulieu said. “We had a lot of businesses that helped donate. We put out requests to businesses and some gave us $500 or $1000, but some gave us $5000 to help us out since there were a lot of students that needed financial help with a trip of this cost.”

This is the band’s second international trip and the first time they will be performing in London.

“It’s pretty remarkable and another huge milestone for the band,” Dawson said. “I mean, the performance will be broadcasted live on PBS and on Youtube. Over half a billion people watch this parade, and it’s all across the globe. If I can say anything, I’m just really proud of all the kids for putting in all the hard work. The kids are going to have a great time.”

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About the Contributor
Domenica Vacca
Domenica Vacca, Arts and Entertainment Editor
This is Domenica’s first year on The Lancer Spirit staff joining as the arts and entertainment editor. When she’s not searching for more stories to write for The Lance Spirit, she can be found drawing or spending time with her dogs. She’s so excited to be a new part of the staff and can’t wait to see what the year brings.

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