In the dark and cold predawn hours of Feb. 15, 121 Ridgefield High School music students —along with their teachers and parent chaperones —departed for an unforgettable musical experience at Disney World in Orlando.
Flying on a Jet Blue aircraft piloted by Ridgefield’s own James Pratt, the father of two RHS music students Ryan and Sarah, the students participated in four days and three nights of learning, performing and fun.
The journey began at Disney’s Contemporary Resort outside of Magic Kingdom, where the members of the band, orchestra and chorus were treated to professional level rehearsals conducted by a Disney music director. With an emphasis on sight reading techniques the combined band and orchestra musicians played various pieces from Disney movies culminating in their recorded performance of “Beauty and the Beast” being incorporated with animation from the film.
The workshop can be included on college resumes as a professional music experience.
The days that followed were filled with adventure at Animal Kingdom, Universal Studios, Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios all culminating in an outdoor public performance by each of the three groups at Disney Springs. The concerts were part of the Disney Performing Arts program and were open to any and all visitors to sit and enjoy.
The students were rewarded with special Mickey ears embellished with the Disney Performing Arts logo, a Mickey ear shaped trophy a certificate of achievement and the unique accomplishment of having been a Disney performer.
The trip was the brain child of Ridgefield High School Music Director Michael McNamara. After a trip to Virginia Beach with the band and orchestra in 2017, “Mr. Mac” was looking for a more ambitious adventure for his students.
Working with Chorus Director Kevin Haines, the team arranged the trip with Global Endeavors, a travel agency specializing in school trips.
“This is the kind of trip that builds a lifetime of memories,” said McNamara. “It’s really great for community building, and the musical experiences were second to none. It was a lot of work to organize it, but we had help from parents and students and it was so worth it. I can’t wait to travel with our kids again.”