North town Orchestra blows away the Windy City

Over spring break, Northtown`s Hornet and Chamber orchestras took a trip to Chicago to perform at West Nile High School`s Heritage festival. Along with the festival, the 78 students that went did some site seeing, and visited some of the well-known places of Chicago. After a 9-hour bus ride, the students went to the Forrest Gump based seafood restaurant Bubba Gump`s. Bubba Gump`s is located on Chicago`s Navy Pier, Chicago`s number on tourist attraction. Although the shops were closed, some due to the time and others due to construction, the students were allowed to walk up and down the pier and enjoy the view of the city over the water.

On the second day, students visited the Lincoln Park zoo first thing in the morning. Students were able to see various different animals and visit the numerous biomes in the buildings found throughout the free zoo. Following the time spent at the zoo, the two orchestras and their volunteers went to Gino`s East of Chicago, known for their deep-dish pizza, for lunch. Students were allowed to use a permanent marker to add their name to the various signatures and drawings gathered on the walls, a Gino`s East tradition.

Following lunch, the students, parents, and teachers stepped off the bus and walked around the streets of Chicago, making their way to William Harris Lee and Co. with a photo opportunity or two along the way. William Harris Lee and Co. is the worlds largest and most respected makers of stringed instruments. Students split up into groups and were given a tour of the shop, going through the various processes it takes to make a stringed instrument. For part of the tour, students were given the opportunity to try out some of the instruments they make, costing anywhere from $9000 to $30000. After the tour, the orchestras were given the freedom to walk up and down The Magnificent Mile, a mile long street of various stores and restaurants.

“I liked walking down The Magnificent Mile,” said junior bass player Taylor Bailey. “We were able to walk around and visit shops, and just go where we wanted.”

After given time to shop, the group walked through Chicago to the city`s only retro themed diner since 1984, Ed Debevics. The diner is known for their good food, and their rude service. However, the servers “sit down and shut up” attitude is only a part of their gimmick, making dinner entertaining. Following the long day out in the big city, the orchestras headed back to the hotel to get some sleep before contest.

Saturday started really early, with a 5:30 wake up call and a 6:30 breakfast. Students got dressed in their concert black and packed their instruments, preparing to head out for West Nile High School. The Hornet Orchestra, made up of sophomores, juniors and seniors, was the first orchestra to perform following a jazz ensemble from Wisconsin. Northtown`s chamber orchestra, made up of freshmen, performed after the orchestra from Wisconsin. Both groups performed their best, and followed their performances with lunch at Buca Di Beppo, and Italian restaurant in Chicago. After numerous courses, the meal was finished off with cheesecake and the group made their way to the Skydeck Ledge in Chicago`s Willis Tower, the eighth tallest building in the world and the tallest building in the Western hemisphere. Students were given the opportunity to take the elevator 103 stories to the top, where numerous 4 foot long glass boxes are set up for guests to stand in, over looking the entire city.

Finishing off the night, before heading home the next day, was the dinner and show at Medieval Times, a renaissance themed place. Set up around an arena, guests take their seat in an assigned section, corresponding with a certain colored knight seen throughout the show. The servers come around with various different things during various different parts of the meal. While eating, guests are treated to a show of chivalry and determination as the six nights display their strength in a medieval style tournament. While on horseback, knights participate in various challenges before fighting each other in various jousting duels. In the end, one knight remains victorious and the show is over.

“Medieval Times was my favorite part of the trip,” said freshman Alondra Hernandez. “The place was really cool, and it was fun to have a show while we ate.”

After the dinner, participants of the Heritage Festival stayed behind in anticipation as they awaited the awards ceremony. There were numerous awards, one of which was a scholarship award given to groups who averaged a certain score between their two songs or pieces. Both orchestras were awarded this scholarship award, one of only a few groups who earned it. On top of this, senior Rebekah Best won a prestigious award for her work with deaf and blind students.

Sunday morning, the two orchestras packed up and headed out on another 9 hour bus ride home after a fun and successful spring break trip.