Alta junior to visit cities, concert halls of Europe this summer with Sound of America Honor Band.
For years, Leah Pedersen has appeared in band concerts on the floor of the Alta High School gymnasium, playing a host of woodwind instruments in concert band and jazz band ensembles for appreciative audiences.
This summer, Pedersen will continue to shine as a member of a woodwind section, but the venues she will be playing in will change considerably.
Pedersen, a junior at Alta High, was selected to be a member of the Sound of America Honor Band and Chorus, and instead of playing her clarinet in the AHS gym, she will be appearing on the stages of some of the finest concert halls in Europe.
Pedersen, who learned about the organization from AHS band director Pam Barnes, said she was extremely excited to be a member of the honor band.
"I thought it would be a fun thing to do, so I decided to apply, and I was lucky enough to be accepted," Pedersen said. "I"m really looking forward to meeting all of the new people, enjoying the new experiences and having a chance to travel to different countries."
Pedersen began the application process in January, when she filled out an application sheet and sent a tape of her playing "Stars and Stripes Forever" and chromatic scales and etudes of her choice to Sound of America officials in Pennsylvania.
She was then notified of her selection into the honor band in late February, and will begin her stint with the group on July 5, when students will convene on the campus of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Penn., for four days of rehearsal.
They will then depart for Frankfurt, Germany, from JFK International Airport in New York City, and will begin an 11-performance, 25-day tour of Europe which will include concerts in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France and Luxembourg.
The itinerary will feature stops in the cities of Paris, Reims, Interlaken, Venice, Innsbruck, Verona, Strasbourg, Cortina, Stresa, Grindelwald, Dijon and La Chaux-de-Fonds, and the musicians will also be able to enjoy a day at Disneyland Paris.
The visit to Europe will be the first experience overseas for Pedersen, and the trip across the Atlantic will also be the first time Pedersen has been on board an airplane.
"I've never flown on an airplane before, so that will be exciting too," Pedersen said. "It will be fun to experience something new."
Pedersen, who will play clarinet in the Sound of America Band, is also fluent with the bass clarinet, tenor saxophone and baritone saxophone, and has played all of those instruments in performances with the Alta football band, concert band, jazz band and pep band.
She has also been a part of the Northwest Iowa Bandmaster's Association Honor Band for the past five years, been a member of the Storm Lake Municipal Band for two years, and has performed with the Karl King, Iowa State University, Drake University, Buena Vista University and Central College Honor Bands.
Pedersen is beginning to raise funds for her trip overseas, as students who have qualified for the Sound of America Honor Band are responsible for all costs involved with the tour.
Those willing to make contributions for the trip may send donations to Leah Pedersen / Sound of America, 497 560th St., Alta, Iowa 51002.