OSU Band member Branden Hansen plays New York.
On May 30 the OSU Wind Ensemble and Pep Band traveled to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall and Greeley Square. Below is band member Branden Hansen’s account of his New York experiences.
The moment we stepped off the buses at our 38-story Manhattan hotel, we forgot the sleep we lost on our red-eye flight to New York City. Taxi cabs, skyscrapers, street vendors selling cheap sunglasses and knock-off purses, bustling sidewalks, a brilliant blue sky and an unforgettable urban odor with hints of hot dogs and the day’s garbage filled our senses. This was our home for an exhilarating, all-too-short weekend.
After unloading our luggage into the hotel, we broke into small groups and invaded the Big Apple — if 99 Beavers losing themselves in a city of 8.2 million is an invasion. We only had one full day as tourists, but my friends and I managed to see Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Times Square. But no tourist activity topped seeing “Chicago” in the fourth row of the 87-year-old Ambassador Theatre. These experiences showed me why people love the city so much. They also prompted me to purchase my own, not-so-unique “I Love NY” shirt.
New York City as the OSU Band saw it. In the background, the Wind Ensemble plays “Gusto El Sabor,” one of the songs they performed at Carnegie Hall.
After resting and a few hours of sightseeing, the members of the OSU Pep Band geared up for their performance at Greeley Square. I threw on my orange and black uniform, grabbed a pair of drumsticks and boarded yet another bus. I still found vehicular sleeping to be virtually impossible.
Heads turned as we unloaded our instruments. Passersby probably thought that this was one of the strangest spring Halloween parties ever. Once the band started pouring out melodies and drum grooves though, people flocked to the square to listen. We had a great time filling this pocket of New York with tunes like “All Right Now,” “Fat Bottom Girls” and of course the OSU Fight Song.
This performance was exciting, but it was only a prelude for what followed.
This was why we had come to New York — our 8:30 p.m. performance at Carnegie Hall. The Wind Ensemble was teeming with anticipation all day. But I had a serious problem: I couldn’t find my music.
With only 30 minutes left before we loaded the buses, I was beyond frantic, thinking, “I am going to die, and then my conductor will kill me.” After the fifth time checking my briefcase I finally found my music…right where I had left it.
The atmosphere in our dressing room was charged. Some practiced difficult measures while others looked at the photos of great performers and ensembles that lined the walls. Finally, we were led to the stage.
Although we had little time to warm up before the concert, I knew we’d spend a few minutes soaking in Carnegie’s aura. Many have seen Carnegie’s ornate, white and gold architecture, but few have seen it from a performer’s perspective.
The lights dimmed and the concert began. Playing at Carnegie, in this incredible city, had put me into a strange musical auto-pilot. I wasn’t thinking about performing. I couldn’t think about performing. The experience was overwhelming.
As we played our final notes I was at last able to take control of my thoughts again and realized that the audience had risen to its feet in applause. As I looked across the stage, I saw my colleagues’ faces streaming with the tears. This was an experience and an event none of us will forget.