Murrieta band performs in 2020 London New Year’s Day Parade

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The Murrieta All-Star Marching Band, consisting of students from Murrieta, participated in the 2020 London New Year’s Day Parade and spent a week in London. Courtesy photo/London’s New Year’s Day Parade photo

Murrieta Mesa High School band director Daniel Greenberg recalled the comments he heard from the crowd assembled for the 2020 London New Year’s Day Parade.

“Thank you for being here.”

“Welcome to London.”

“Happy New Year!”

“You guys are awesome.”

It was music to the ears of Greenberg, who along with Murrieta Valley High School band director Brad Pulverenti, led the students of the Murrieta All-Star Marching Band on a trip they will likely never forget.

“The parade was absolutely amazing,” Greenberg said. “Marching band in London is not an activity they do. The people of London were so grateful to have bands from America and all over the world there to participate in the parade. This was like no parade I have been a part of. The variety of ensembles and participants varied so widely, it was amazing.”

He said he and the students really felt the effect of the energy of the parade right from the start.

“Once we turned the corner onto the parade route and saw the amount of people there, our excitement and energy went through the roof,” he said. “The parade itself was approximately 2 miles long. At the end of the parade, there was a finale section. The kids did something a little different by singing and playing in this section. When we got back on the bus, they were so excited about the whole parade. I know they would love to go back and do it again.”

In 2018, the parade officials from London came to Murrieta to present the opportunity for a local band to participate in the 2020 parade.

“After the announcement, we started to plan the trip by collecting money, passport information, as well as making arrangements in London,” Greenberg said. “We started rehearsals in August 2019, meeting every other Sunday for three hours. There were two parts to our rehearsals. The first part was the concert music that we prepared, and the second was the parade tune and our TV finale tune.”

They had their final practice Dec. 15, because they had to ship all the instruments to London 10 days before the group traveled oversees.

In all, the group stayed six nights in London, leaving Dec. 27 and returning Friday, Jan. 3. The trip included educational tours of Oxford and Windsor, the Tower of London and Greenwich and a cruise on the River Thames. There were plenty of shopping and dining experiences as well.

In all, Greenberg said he is confident the students gained a lot from the trip.

“I felt that it was important for these students to have an opportunity to perform on a world stage, see the history and culture of the greater London area and for them to collaborate with the other schools in our district,” he said. “When I was in high school, I was given a similar opportunity and I absolutely loved it. I have always wanted to provide an opportunity like this to my students because I remember the joy that I once had.”

He said for a lot of the students, it was the first time they had left the country and their first time on an airplane.

“This might be the only time in their lives that they might get an opportunity to travel to London,” Greenberg said. “For me, this was something I always wanted to provide for students. I love that band can be more than just a concert or a class. It can give students opportunities that they would have never been able to do. To travel and perform in another country is something these students and parents will never forget.”

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.