Wind Ensemble tries to raise funds for trip to Carnegie Hall

Students in USF’s Wind Ensemble were selected to perform at the prestigious Carnegie Hall next spring. 

Without acquiring the necessary funds however, the band may not be able to take the trip.

In order to play at Carnegie in March, Band Director John Carmichael said the band needs to raise at least $40,000 this week in order to confirm their attendance at the World Projects music festival, which will cost the entire ensemble approximately $80,000.

World Projects, the largest music festival in the world, has concerts and performances in a variety of places. The company wants an initial non-refundable deposit from the ensemble by Wednesday. Carmichael said this date was extended from the original deadline of Aug. 28.

“Unlike athletics, we don’t make money by doing what we do,” Carmichael said. “But what is tragic is when (raising money) falls on students.”

Philip Beatty, a junior majoring in music performance who plays tuba in the wind ensemble, is working to raise money to be able to attend the trip.

“We got invited to play at Carnegie Hall, which is definitely an honor to be chosen to go to and perform,” Beatty said. “It does not happen every day.”

Carmichael said he contributed some of his own savings to the deposit to take some of the stress of fundraising off students. 

“I fronted $2,000 from my own bank account because (the trip) is still tentative,” Carmichael said. “I have no budget, no funds available, but my goal is to raise half of the money, $40,000.”

After speaking with the head of the music department and other colleagues, Carmichael said he realized he wasn’t going to find much financial support from the university. 

“What surprised me was the absence of institutional ‘wow’ and support to commit to and fund the trip,” Carmichael said.

At Carmichael’s last position as a band director in Kentucky, the majority of the money to fund a trip to Russia was raised by the band, and more than half of that being from the university itself. Carmichael said he hopes to do the same here by raising money himself and also asking the students to help raise funds.

“(Carmichael) has raised $4,400 from a friend,” Beatty said. “Slowly but surely he is getting there. If only USF saw it like the basketball team going to an NCAA tournament that USF funds with everything paid for.”

Another concern, Carmichael said, is ensuring enough students in each section of the wind ensemble are able to attend, due to a need for a certain number of instruments required to play each piece.

At the Carnegie performance, Carmichael said he plans to premiere a new work by Dr. Baljinder Sekhon, another professor in the School of Music, who is also taking alumni to perform.   

To help raise funds, students such as John Hadden, a junior majoring in music, are sending emails to family, friends and even USF President Judy Genshaft asking for any assistance they can provide. These emails were written by Carmichael and given to the students as tools to help them raise money for the trip.

“One letter was aimed toward service clubs to request funds, and in return the student will do a PowerPoint presentation from the trip at the meeting,” Carmichael said. “The other email was to be sent to relatives, neighbors or anyone else the student thinks can help with the trip.”

Carmichael said he has also been going through old band records of every individual who has ever played with the band, music major or not. He said he plans to contact the USF Alumni Center to get in touch with these past performers, in hopes they can donate money to help the band.

Carmichael said if the students are going to fundraise, they should do it in a manner that involves what they’re doing on this trip: playing music, not selling candy. He said he hopes to have all ensemble members who are working toward Carnegie Hall be able to attend.

“Anyone who has earned the right to go should be able to go,” Carmichael said.