By Nick Dicillo

Nick DiCillo has had a wide array of BOA experiences: in the Honor Band of America, as a fall participant, a member of the Honor Band in the 2005 Rose Parade, and a 2004 Revelli Scholarship recipient. He shares his thoughts on being part of the Honor Band of America.

Have you ever imagined having the opportunity to perform with some of the nation’s finest high school musicians? I have been fortunate enough to participate in such an event. My name is Nick DiCillo, and I am a senior at Kennesaw Mountain High School, in Kennesaw, GA. I play the flute and piccolo, and have been playing for about nine years. I have performed in myriads of musical ensembles, including all-state bands, district honor bands, youth orchestras, youth wind ensembles, chamber ensembles, and even adult groups, but none of them compared to that of the Honor Band of America.

I was first introduced to the Honor Band of America through a friend of mine, when I was a mere freshman. It seemed like a great opportunity, but I had missed the audition deadline, so unfortunately, I was not able to audition until my sophomore year. I was told that as a sophomore, the chances of being selected were very slim, but I chose to audition regardless. I received notification of my acceptance several months later. I was elated, but little did I know that the magnitude of this accomplishment was far greater than I ever could have imagined.

After waiting several months in anticipation, it was finally time to travel to Indianapolis for the huge event. Immediately after arriving at the hotel, I thought it would be wise to practice for chair auditions, rather than disregard them. It was then that I encountered some of the finest musicians I had ever seen or heard. The auditions took place, and we had our first ensemble rehearsal, as the Honor Band of America, under the renowned baton of Mallory Thompson, one of the finest conductors in the world. From the first note, I knew that this particular ensemble was phenomenal, and would be the finest ensemble in which I would perform. The talent level was uniform, and there were no “weak players.”

In addition to performing some of the greatest literature written for the wind band, we all shared the making and love of music. Every musician had a love and a passion for music and music making; otherwise, they would not have been attending.

The most memorable aspect of the entire event was the concert in which we performed that Saturday night. Performing in an ensemble with an audience of more than 1,000 of your peers is quite a terrifying thought. Once you hear the applause, however, and accept the plaudits that are offered, you cannot help but feel a rush of adrenaline. The concert ended before I knew it had started. To this day, I have yet to perform with a more superior ensemble.

A great number of memories came from outside the rehearsals of this fine group. The people that I met were truly amazing. They were so much more than great musicians – they were great people as well. A surprising aspect of these musicians was the humility they all exhibited. I made so many unique and wonderful friends, many of whom I continue to speak with on a regular basis. From meals, to dancing, and even to the concert itself, memories were made which I will carry with me always.

From this experience, I not only gained an immense amount of knowledge as a musician, but also as a person.

As a sophomore sitting at the top of the section, there was a huge amount of responsibility on my part. The relaxed rehearsal environment helps alleviate some of the stress of perfection and allows you to focus. Exposure to great repertoire and wonderful instruction was only a portion of what comprised the weekend. Bonding with people who would become some of my closest friends and creating numerous unforgettable memories with them are experiences that I never envisioned. I would encourage any competent musician to audition, as it is one of the finest opportunities offered to high school musicians. I was only able to participate in the Honor Band of America for two years, and I regret not having that final opportunity. For me, Bands of America truly lived up to the axiom of “creating positively life-changing experiences.” Having the opportunity to play under the batons of both Mallory Thompson and Eugene Corporon is a memory I will cherish forever and always.