FFHS band gearing for Cuba trip
The Fort Frances High School senior band is gearing up for its trip to Cuba in just a few weeks.
“Plans are coming along really well,” said music teacher Lisa Loney, adding it will be a very educational trip, with the students learning a lot about the history and culture of that country.
“We’ve been told that they accept donated items, so we are planning to bring things to leave for people there,” Loney noted.
“And if members of the public have anything they’d like to donate, we’ll take it along with us.”
Some of the items they’ll be taking include toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand cream, pencils, crayons, colouring books, and clothing.
“They also are looking for donations of instruments, such as guitars and violins,” said Loney, noting Borderland Orchestra conductor Katherine Williams is putting together a donation for them to take.
Anyone interested in donating can drop items off at the high school.
“Or if they want to donate cash, we have a student and a parent who will be going to purchase items to donate,” Loney added.
The group, consisting of 56 students and 13 chaperones, will be leaving March 11 at 3 a.m. and returning March 18.
Loney said they have been receiving travel tips from their tour company, as well as from others who have visited Cuba before, in preparation for the trip.
“I think the kids are going to get a big shock,” she remarked.
For instance, she noted audiences in Canada sit and listen to the performance and clap when the song is over. But Loney has been told to expect Cuban audiences to get up and dance.
“I’m not sure the students will be prepared for that when they’re playing,” she conceded.
“But I’m sure it will be pretty fun for them.”
While there is some time allowed for relaxing at the beach, there are plenty of performances and other learning opportunities on the agenda.
Upon arriving at their resort just outside Havana, they will have dinner and then an optional rehearsal time available.
The following day will include a walking tour of Old Town Havana, Spain’s gateway to the conquest of Latin America, as well as a visit to the “Parque Historico del Morro” to see fortifications built in the 17th century to guard the city from pirate attacks.
They will perform for both international and Cuban guests at the resort that evening.
The band, which also has formed a choir, will have four different programs prepared to perform.
“It will be a learning experience to read the audience and choose which program to play,” explained Loney, adding they are preparing a variety of different tunes.
The band also will have the chance to see some Cuban performances during their trip, such as attending a percussion and Latin rhythms workshop, as well as a performance by Novel Voz, an excellent a capella vocal jazz ensemble, and a presentation by an Afro-Cuban musical/dance group.
They also have the option of visiting the Jazz Café to enjoy performances by top Cuban musicians.
“We will also be spending two half-days at an arts high school, where we will have the chance to play for each other,” Loney enthused.
“The kids are really looking forward to interacting with other students.
“It will be neat to be in a school and see what it is like for kids [in Cuba] to go to school,” she added.
As well, band members will have the option to visit a local orphanage to do some humanitarian work.
“It is something they are really looking forward to,” Loney said. “They are a really good group of kids and I think their compassion is really going to show.
“I think they are going to represent our country, town, and district in a really good way,” she added.