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Pomp & Circumstance at Mission San Jose High

By Miriam G. Mazliach

November 9, 2010

The Mission San Jose High School (MSJHS) marching band, clad in crisp uniforms of green and white, loudly heralded the commencement of welcoming ceremonies for the Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Westminster, Catherine Longworth. Her visit to the school, on November 1, had stirred up much anticipation and excitement as she came to honor the students with a special invitation.

Accompanying Lord Mayor Longworth, from England, was her husband Mr. John Longworth as well as Mr. Robert Bone, the Executive Director of the London New Year’s Parade and International Choral Festival.

After listening to the band and following several exquisite musical interludes from the school’s symphony and choir, Lord Mayor Longworth commented, “I have enjoyed your absolutely outstanding performance this morning. Thank you for entertaining us so beautifully.”

As the Queen’s representative, Longworth serves in a largely ceremonial role as the ‘First Citizen’ of the city of Westminster, an inner London borough that occupies much of the central area of London.

Reading aloud, Lord Mayor Longworth presented MSJHS’s Instrumental and Vocal Music programs with their invitation to perform in the London New Year’s Parade and Festival. This will be the first official event in Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Celebration, celebrating 60 years on the throne. Taking place December 27, 2011 - January 4, 2012, this milestone will also mark the first official event in London’s Olympic year and cultural Olympiad.

As elaborated further by Mr. Bone, the school was chosen due to their reputation of performance excellence at many festivals and competitions. Ten U.S. Schools have been extended the honor, but MSJHS is the only school where all three programs [Band, Chorale and Orchestra] have been invited to participate. He stated, “Mission San Jose is well known for its excellent programs and high standards.”

The past few years, the Mission Marching Band and Orchestra, under the direction of Monica Kraft and Veronica Peiffer, have performed at the 2009 American Musicians in Rome Festival, at the Benigo Easter Celebration in Australia in 2007, along with festivals and competitions in Holland, Scotland, Spain, and France.

Mission’s Chorale has traveled to Rome, Italy and sung at the Vatican on World Peace Day 2010 for their first international performance. Chorale has also performed in many festivals across California. However, this will be the Chorale director’s, Jason Aucoin’s, first trip abroad with his students.

Kraft accepted the Lord Mayor’s invitation on behalf of the students and her colleagues Pfeifer and Aucoin, responding, “We are honored to be chosen to participate in this incredible event.”

President of Fremont Unified School Board, Lara York addressed the students. “All of you have shown that all that practice has gotten you to the point you are today. We are so proud that you will be representing the U.S. in London.”

Last year London’s New Year’s Day parade was watched by 3/4 of a million people on the streets of Westminster and 240 million saw the event worldwide on television. “This is the greatest parade, in the greatest city in the world,” said Bone. “There are 10,000 event participants in the parade, making it bigger than even the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” he added.”

During the Jubilee, concert performances will be held at prestigious venues and concert halls around the city, such as the well-known Westminster Symphony Hall and Cadogan Hall, one of London’s newest concert halls. The choir will perform at the Grand Finale Gala.

“It will be an absolutely superb and memorable occasion,” said Bone. “It’s a wonderful musical festival. No better experience than coming with a great purpose to a great city. I promise you, that your memories will last for the rest of your life and the welcome will be very warm.”

The trip will cost over $400,000 and the student musicians along with Parents of Universal Performers, a non-profit foundation created to support the Performing Arts programs at Mission, will begin fundraising immediately. If you would like to help, there are several ways to assist them in reaching their goal.

First, the school is trying to win a Pepsi Refresh Grant for $50,000 to help purchase new band uniforms to replace theirs which are 20-year old. To help, you can vote by texting: 102415 to 73774 each day through November 30 or vote online at

Additionally, to donate towards the cost of the London trip, a tax-deductible donation can be made through (Mission San Jose Parents of Universal Performers).

“I think of this as a wonderful opportunity for our kids, to travel,” said Fremont School Board Trustee, Ivy Wu. “Mission San Jose High School kids are known for their academic excellence and now they can show their music abilities in a global way and to the community at large.”

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