It is known as the city that never sleeps, a name that only seems appropriate with its millions of bustling people, thousands of restaurants, hundreds of successful companies, and one Lincoln Center Stage. It is precisely this stage that my school’s band was able to perform on this year.
My musical journey began in fifth-grade band, where I chose the flute as the instrument I wanted to play. After years of honing my skills, I was able to make it into my high school’s symphonic band, which travels annually to one of America’s great cities to perform, eat and experience. This year, we took to the sights and sounds of New York City.
After a bumpy bus ride and restful night of sleep, we were ready to see New York. We visited several sites crucial to our nation’s history, including Ellis Island, Manhattan Island, and the 9/11 Memorial. As a proud American, these historical sites brought true meaning to my time in New York, more especially so due to my personal connection to each of these sites. The Statue of Liberty on Manhattan Island is the symbol of our individual freedoms today; my parents came through the gates of Ellis Island to get where they are today; and my cousin lost his life in the tragic 9/11 airplane crash.
Being able to revisit my nation’s history deepened my connection with the people around me and was an experience that undoubtedly changed the way I viewed the world. The experience moved me to tears as it gave me a newfound gratitude for the rights Americans are able to have today and served as a reminder of how important it is to protect these rights.
Before taking Lincoln Center, my group toured the streets of New York, taking in all the bright lights of the Times Square billboards and the excitement of the Broadway shows.
After a restful night’s sleep, we were fully prepared for the last and most important day of our trip. The band spent almost the whole day preparing for our performance, including rehearsing, conducting sound checks, changing into uniforms, speaking our final words, and then BAM! The stage awaits you. I take my seat, and the conductor, with a flick of his wrist, begins the program. My fingers whisk through the fast parts and my air carries me through the slow parts, but the meaning of that evening goes beyond the technique.
What made that night so special is the meaning it brought to me as a musician. It was the only opportunity I ever had to perform and share my music in front of an audience as big as the one we had and on a stage as grand as the one we performed on. The rush of adrenaline I got on that stage was something I’ve never felt before and possibly will never feel again. It was the experience of a lifetime.
In an ever-changing world, New York remains one of the most powerful cities to exist. With its skyscraping buildings, its rich diversity of people, and its collection of American history, New York holds so much value to our country today. On this trip, I was able to witness how New York poses as a giant in the global economy, stands as an example of coexistence in a segregated world, and shines as a beacon of liberty to those suppressed in a world of oppression.
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