West Rowan seniors prepare for their debut at Carnegie Hall

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 14, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
MT. ULLA — Alex Day and Bryce Wilhite aren’t necessarily the most talented musicians to ever come through West Rowan High School, but they’re probably pretty close.
Band Director Daniel Trivette said one thing is for sure, the seniors are two of the hardest working students he’s ever had.
“They are the kind of students that will do absolutely anything to get better,” he said. “They are really dedicated to making themselves the best.”
That means practice, practice, practice.
“Alex shows up at about 6:30 every morning with a tuba ready to practice,” Trivette said. “He practices about an hour before school even starts.”
Trivette said Wilhite also spends a tremendous amount of time working to perfect his sound.
“These guys have talent and work harder than anyone else,” he said. “They aren’t afraid to sit down and work on it.”
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That dedication is paying off.
Day and Wilhite will be heading to New York in February to perform in the American High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall.
A total of 450 students nationwide are selected to perform in the band, orchestra and choral performances featured in the series.
They each had to send in an audio recording that served as their audition.
“I had my doubts about my audition before I even sent it in and I was thinking about not sending it because I thought it was horrible,” Wilhite said. “But I convinced myself to send it and I was so happy I thought I was going to pass out.”
Day said he thought he had a pretty good shot because of the nomination he received to audition.
“It still kind of shocked me when I got the letter,” he said. “I think I ran around screaming for a good five minutes at least. It was a good day.”
Trivette said the two will be his first students to play at Carnegie Hall, an honor he likens to athletes playing in the Super Bowl.
“It’s a performing arts mecca,” he said. “It’s kind of like these two guys have sort of arrived. They have the chance to play where the big leagues play.”
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Neither of the boys started out playing tuba. They picked up the trumpet in sixth grade at West Middle.
Wilhite was planning to follow in his brother’s footsteps, but he decided to switch it up when he got to high school.
“At first, I wanted to just try out tuba, but Mr. Trivette thought it was a good idea to start with a baritone,” he said. “When I realized I was good at that, I thought I would be really good at tuba, so one thing led to another.”
Day said different circumstances led him to the tuba.
“I sucked at the trumpet, so I tried other instruments and the tuba worked for me,” he said.
But it wasn’t necessarily the music that keep the two in band.
“The friendships you make in band are really, really strong,” Wilhite said.
Day said he’s enjoyed getting to know people from all over the state through competitions and workshops.
“We’re pretty much one giant family,” he said. “You aren’t surrounded by strangers, you’re surrounded by musicians.”
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Wilhite and Day said they’re ready to take the stage at Carnegie Hall.
“It’s a really prestigious honor,” Wilhite said. “Even my family is excited about it because I’m the only one in the family who has ever done anything like this
“I’m just happy to be going up there my senior year.”
Day agrees.
“It’s a nice end,” he said. “You might as well go out with a big bang.”
Both boys are currently doing fundraisers to pay for their trip, selling fruit through the West marching band.
Day is also hosting a doughnut and candy sale through his church, St. Paul’s Lutheran.
Wilhite said he hopes other students will take the plunge and try out for the honors band in the future.
“Go for it,” he said. “No matter what you do, believe in yourself and try your hardest and you may be surprised what happens.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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