The Prince Rupert Middle School jazz band took the stage at MusicFest Canada 2018 in the early morning.
It was 9 a.m. in Toronto — but 6 a.m. back home in B.C. — when the students picked up their instruments during their whirlwind trip. Both the jazz and the concert bands had been invited to perform after playing in the 2017 Pacific Northwest Music Festival, and between then and now, had spent many hours honing their craft.
“From what I could tell, they had a blast,” band director Kristy Tillman said after the trip. “From security in the Terrace Airport to Canada’s Wonderland, the CN Tower, the aquarium and Niagara Falls, you’d look around and every kid had a big smile on their face.”
For some, it was their first time visiting Toronto. Amal Atyah, one of the students who plays in both bands, said, “I didn’t expect it would be that much fun. My favourite part was when we went to Niagra Falls. It was my first time seeing it. I couldn’t believe it.”
Before the 38 PRMS students started the journey back home to Prince Rupert, the applause following their performances wouldn’t be the only feedback they received. Both bands won — gold for the jazz band, and silver for the concert band — and two students were awarded honours.
Kiran Dias had two trombone solos during the jazz performance. “It felt really weird,” Dias said of performing in a new space. “It sounds different there.” He said when he was awarded honours, he felt speechless. Back at school in Prince Rupert, he still can’t quite describe how it felt.
Samuel Costa, on the other hand, said, “I felt happy and accomplished.” The percussionist had been awarded honours for his drum solo. Even though he was far from home, his great uncle was in the audience when he won.
The next MusicFest Canada may be a year away, but for the 2019 performance, 64 PRMS students have been invited to play.