The Main Street Pilot Club of Baker and the Heritage choral ensemble will be raising funds Sunday to send the Baker High School "Symphony of Soul" Symphonic Band to Carnegie Hall in New York.
The band will be leaving for the WorldStrides Onstage Music Festivals' "Carnegie Hall: National Band & Orchestra Festival" on March 29, adding another notch to its post-flood list of honors.
The Symphony of Soul is among 18 high school ensembles from throughout the U.S. chosen through audition for the festival. Fundraising began last August, but the band is still $25,000 shy of its $80,000 goal.
"We're in the home stretch now, but we still have a way to go," says William Earvin, director of bands. "We have an ongoing GoFundMe campaign that we hope to wrap up on March 1. Search for 'Baker Band to Carnegie' when you get to the website."
Toward that goal, Heritage will perform a fundraising concert at 4 p.m. Sunday at First Baptist Church of Baker, 3213 Groom Road.
Admission is free, but an offering taken during the performance, will be donated to the band. A reception will follow the concert.
"We were aware that the Baker High School Symphonic Band would be performing at Carnegie Hall in March, and we thought this would be a good way to assist them," Pilot Club President Gloria Johnson says. "We're always looking for ways to do work in our community; it's part of our mission."
Johnson is a former member of Heritage. She contacted the choir's director, Clarence Jones, about staging the fundraiser.
Heritage is a nonprofit chorus founded in 1976 with a mission to to perpetuate the "Negro Spiritual." The choir traditionally begins its concerts with a march down church or concert hall aisles to the stage, then performs a cappella.
Most of the 50 symphonic band members will attend the Sunday concert, one of several fundraising activities, including the Baker High School Marching Band's recent appearance in six Mardi Gras parades.
At Carnegie Hall, the band will be performing Ayatey Shabazz's piece, "Heroes," the second piece Shabazz composed for the band. Last year, he composed "Regenesis," a commentary on the band's rise from and perseverance after the August 2016 floods.
After the high school was inundated by the flood, its faculty, staff and students were moved to Baker Middle School, where they've been for two academic years.
In March, the band premiered "Regenesis" at the Louisiana Music Educators Association's District IV Festival and earned superior ratings, one of only a record 20 awards it received during the school year. Members of the senior class received a combined $1.3 million in college band scholarships.
The band will premiere Shabazz's "Heroes" at the LMEA District IV Band Festival on March 6 at Zachary High School.
The band will leave for New York on March 29 and return April 1, Easter Sunday. Earvin is planning some sightseeing trips for the group, including a visit to the Statue of Liberty.
Individual donations can be made by calling the high school and specifying that the money go to the band. For more information on the Heritage concert, visit the Baker School District at bakerschools.org.