university high school band london
PHOTO COURTESY HEATHER PEEPLES
CELEBRATE — Before accepting their invitations to London, England, Nov. 16 University High School’s marching band and chorus perform a concert.

Orange City’s University High School Titan Regiment marching band and the school’s chorus were officially invited Nov. 16 to participate in the 2024 London New Year’s Day Parade and the London International Choral Festival. 

First came the excitement for Band Director Jarrod Koskoski, Director of Choral Activities Jonathan Anderson and their students; quickly followed by planning for fundraisers to pay for the trip.

The high-school marching band from Orange City was among 23 bands from the U.S. invited to perform in the parade. While bands typically receive nominations from other bands who have gone to London for the event, Koskoski and the Titan Regiment were selected on their merit, and because Koskoski traveled to London for the parade with the Seabreeze High School marching band in 2019 when he was the band director there.

PHOTO COURTESY HEATHER PEEPLES
CAN’T WAIT TO GO — Proud University High School Director of Choral Activities Jonathan Anderson, left, smiles with some of his students: Meike Curtiss, Greta Peeples, Chloe Begey and Adriana Isabella.

“It’s a very great experience for the kids, definitely a morale booster coming out of COVID,” Koskoski said. “Those last two, three years have been really hard on music programs across the state.”

Likewise, the choir was selected to perform in the international festival after Director Anderson submitted videos of the 200-voice choir performing.

The students — Anderson hopes to bring 50 — will get to perform in iconic locales with peers and directors from around the world. 

“The final concert includes all the choirs participating in the London International Choral Festival and a full symphonic orchestra made up of London’s finest conservatory musicians,” Anderson said. “During the trip, we will perform two concerts by ourselves in some amazing venues such as St. Augustine’s Cathedral and St. John’s Smith Square.”

The students are pretty excited. Especially so for junior drum major Karissa Sibley, because this trip is a far cry from her first year with the Marching Titans, when the COVID-19 pandemic ended their season early.

“I’ve never done anything like this. I’ve never left the country before,” Sibley said. “It’s a whole new world of experiences.”

Fundraising will begin soon for a trip to play in the 2024 London New Year’s Day Parade and the London International Choral Festival

The next step is to begin raising money to subsidize the cost of the students’ overseas travel. The approximate cost per student will be around $3,500, Koskoski said. That includes airfare to and from the United Kingdom, tours, meals and trips to see the crown jewels and more.

PHOTO COURTESY HEATHER PEEPLES
SMILE — Representatives from the London New Year’s Day Parade visit Orange City to personally invite University High School’s Titan Regiment and the school’s chorus to perform in the event. From left are Volusia County School Board Member Jamie Haynes, Former Lord Mayor of Westminster Duncan Sandys, UHS Principal Karen Chenoweth, UHS Band Director Jared Koskoski, color guard Director Dominica Stanger, UHS Director of Choral Activities Jonathan Anderson and London New Year’s Day Parade founder Bob Bone.

The goal, the directors told The Beacon, is to raise enough money to lower the cost for students who want to attend the London trip but cannot self-pay the entire amount.

With hundreds of kids interested in going, that’s going to mean quite a bit of money. A team of parents is working to come up with campaigns and fundraisers to get the thousands of dollars needed.

“Reaching out to the community is going to be a huge thing,” Koskoski said. “We’re not going to get to England on chocolate bars.”

The chorus has big plans, too.

“Our fundraising efforts will be starting soon with a 5K, golf tournament, performance dinners and more,” Anderson said. “We are also looking for corporate sponsors who would like to support the choir and help us achieve our fundraising goals to make sure as many students get to go as possible.”

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