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OCC Students to Perform at New York City's Carnegie Hall

Concert Band PhotoMusicians around the globe long to perform at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall. That dream will become a reality for Olney Central College students as they take to the legendary stage this summer during the venue’s Symphonic Series.

“This is such an important event not only for the students personally, not only for the Music Department for many reasons, but also for the recognition it brings to Olney Central College on a worldwide stage as well as the extreme benefits to the community,” said Director of Bands Wade Baker. “As a community college instructor, especially being someone who works in the arts at a community college, it is important to me to bring as many culturally enriching opportunities to the students and the community as I possibly can. I can’t really think of too many things bigger than being able to take young people from this area to New York City. For most of them, this will be the first time they have gone to New York, and for some, this may be the only time they get to go. To play on hallowed ground, as far as classical music goes or music in general, is such a great opportunity. We are going to get to play on the same stage as the New York Philharmonic Orchestra – the same stage that Leonard Bernstein conducted on. It is a really huge deal. It is something I think the community and our school can really be proud of.”

The invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall followed Baker’s selection as a quarter-finalist for the 2019 GRAMMY Music Educator Award given by the Recording Academy and the Grammy Museum. Baker advanced to the semi-final round of the competition.

“It was a pretty exciting moment,” Baker said of receiving the call. “Carnegie Hall is arguably one of the three most popular concert halls in the world.”

Baker along with adjunct faculty members Chris Parker and Monte Skelton will travel with members of the OCC Concert Band and Community Band to the Big Apple June 14-17. Accompanying them will be the Lincoln Trail College Concert Band faculty and a few LTC students. Altogether about 32 individuals are expected to participate.

While in New York, the students will visit the rooftop of Rockefeller Center and attend a Broadway show. They also will participate in a clinic given by the University of Arizona’s Director of Bands.

“The students are crazy excited,” Baker said. “I know a couple of students, the big reason they came here this year, was so they could go do this. One of the benefits of us getting to do this is that it is helping with our recruiting. I’d like to be able to take the students every two years on a trip to places like Chicago or Indianapolis.”

The trip, which will include accommodations at a Midtown Manhattan hotel, will cost just over $40,000. The Music Department has already raised $20,000 through private donors and is working diligently to generate the remaining funds.

Baker said students will be selling $50 thank you advertisements for performances this semester.

“The ads will be placed in our concert programs and we will also be doing slide shows of all of the ads prior to the concerts and during the intermissions,” Baker said. “Purchasers would basically become patrons of the Arts for the Olney Central College Music Department.”

Donations also will be accepted during the Winter Concert on Feb. 22 and the Spring Concert on April 26. Both events begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Dr. John D. Stull Performing Arts Center.

Baker and his fiancee, Jamie Taylor, are planning a fund-raising concert in March or April at the Eagles in Olney. Other activities in the works include a pork burger sale at IGA and a car wash.

Individuals interested in supporting the OCC Music Department with its fund-raising efforts can contact Baker at 618-395-7777, ext. 2251, or email

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