RALEIGH N.C. State University’s marching band is about to give its reputation – and the university’s – another bit of international burnishing.
At the invitation of the city of Madrid, the band is traveling to Spain, where it will march in that city’s main Christmas-holidays parade, the Cabalgata de Reyes Magos, on Jan. 5.
It will be one of just a handful of bands in the children-oriented parade, which can draw upward of half a million spectators and is televised all over Europe, said Paul Garcia, director of bands for the university.
“Our band has done quite a bit to boost its visibility in the past few years, but until recently we hadn’t been getting out of the region much, so this is just fantastic,” Garcia said. “It will be a great learning experience for the students as well as an opportunity to share our music and a little about N.C. State.”
The evening parade marks the eve of the Epiphany – the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem – which is a big night for kids in Spain, because they get to open gifts.
Only three U.S. bands are invited to play, and they had to pass muster of a panel of judges who review the bands’ résumés and videos of their performances.
It will be the first time outside the U.S. for many of the students, Garcia said.
And they will not only get to play in the parade but will get to soak up some history and culture, since they’ll be in Spain from Jan. 2. to 10. The itinerary includes side trips to Barcelona and Toledo, visits to various museums and cathedrals, and some traditional meals such as tapas and paella.
Toledo officials asked if the band would play there, too, so it is planning two performances in that city, Garcia said.
This will not be the NCSU band’s first time on the international stage. In 2010, the band traveled to Dublin to march in that city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, which also gets massive media exposure.
It won the award for the best band in that parade, even though Garcia had been initially told it wasn’t eligible for the prize.
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