Forte in Florida: This year, CHS Orchestras travel to Florida for their triennial out-of-state school trip


Selena Liu

Tom Chen, assistant director of orchestras, conducts the string section of Symphony orchestra during an after school rehearsal. With a little less than a month left to go, the orchestra has been practicing non-stop to prepare for performing in Florida.

Amy Zhou, Entertainment Editor

Unlike many in her class, Min Hua Li, senior and orchestra member, decided not to join the 130 orchestra students going on the Disney World trip this spring. The orchestra performing arts trips are optional, and Li said she came to the decision not to go due to several factors.

“Even though it’d be really fun to go with my friends, there are a couple of downsides,”Li said. “This year, we’re staying in (the United States) so it’s just not as fun as going abroad, so location was a big part of it.”

Li also mentioned the cost of the trip was a factor, and she said she did not feel it would be worth it to travel within the states.

Regarding cost, according to Michael Gray, director of sales for Music Travel Consultants, the price for orchestra trips can vary greatly depending on the location number of students attending and the activities planned. Although students and parents are presented with the trip itinerary already planned out, the process behind organizing it requires collaboration from both teachers and the travel agency.

“(The itinerary planning process) starts with the directors and then it works through several revisions of the proposal and that means we’re contacting each and every vendor for the trip (to see options). We’re dealing with getting airfare for groups,” Gray said, “(when) we’re talking about groups this large… the airlines aren’t very friendly.” Details such as how active students will be and food allergies must be taken into consideration as well.

Although students such as Li may feel disappointed about not traveling abroad for the trip and decide not to go, director of orchestras Elisabeth Ohly-Davis said the orchestra program has a formula of sorts for determining when and where the next trip takes place. She said this formula includes the orchestra trips taking place every three years, alternating between the states and internationally.

“The tradition has been that the orchestra goes (on a trip) every three years and then another tradition that has been implemented is like one (trip is) out of country trip and (the next) in country trip,” Ohly-Davis said. “(When planning the trip) we just kind of looked at things like safety and things to do and where is a location that we would have a good time- and just a lot of different things. First of all, (we look at) musical opportunities, and so Disney is great at that. And then safety (again) and then making sure that it’s gonna be fun.”

In previous trips, the orchestra program traveled to places such as New York, California, Vienna and Russia. Although many students said they believed this year’s trip would take place abroad, Ohly-Davis said safety was the main concern for the orchestra directors.

“We always take a look at what’s happening in the world, too,” Ohly-Davis said. “There was a chance that we would have done another international trip, but things got a little weird after the (presidential) inauguration with the travel bans, and so we were like, ‘No we’re definitely going to stay in country,’ just so that we don’t have to worry about anybody and(pre- planning) just in case there is a somebody that we would have to worry about.”

In addition, Gray said Music Travel Consultants has tour directors with the group at all times to ensure the trips go smoothly. However, he said, just because this year’s trip will take place within the United States does not mean there are looser precautions and procedures for traveling.

Gray also said many tricky issues while traveling with a group the size of the CHS orchestras include finding a hotel with enough room to fit everyone, dealing with every single meal and handling instruments.

Ohly-Davis also expressed her concern when traveling with instruments and especially larger ones such as cellos and basses.

“We’re going to be flying so our instruments are going to have to be our carry on,” Ohly-Davis said. According to Ohly-Davis, traveling with instruments is a huge consideration because it means students have less luggage they can take with them and will need to be especially careful on keeping instruments safe.

However, as a travel agency specifically tailored for performing arts trips, Music Travels deals with everything from transporting instruments to renting stands for performances, and that includes anticipating situations unforeseeable and fixing problems along the way, which helps.

Despite the complicated process behind performing arts trips, Ohly-Davis and Li both said the main goal for them is to give students unique musical and cultural experiences.

“Other performing arts groups, you’ll find, like, the marching band goes or one of the choirs goes, so we pride ourselves in that we give everyone the opportunity to go,” Ohly-Davis said.

Li did express some regret at not attending the trip, but said ultimately, for her, the location and cost outweighed the experience. Despite not going on the trip this year, Li said she still hopes students who are traveling have a good time.

Li said, “Take advantage of the trip because you’ll definitely make lots of memories and friends and it’ll definitely be a trip worth remembering.”