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Australian marching band to play in parade Saturday night

by Heidi Alder

They live in Lilli Pilli, wear school uniforms and can’t wait to go to Disneyland. They also love to sing, dance and play instruments. They are the Woolooware High School concert band, jazz ensemble and dance group.

Members of the Douglas High School music department are in for a real cultural experience this week. A musical group from near Sydney, Australia will be traveling to the U.S. to sightsee, perform and learn the “American lifestyle.”

When Russell Hammond, the Australian school band director, called DHS music director Bill Zabelsky to ask if he would host the Aussie band, Zabelsky said, “We’d be more than happy to.”

Zabelsky said the band will arrive in San Francisco and will be hosted by students in Fairfield, Calif. The band wanted to stay near the Sierra and Russ Campbell, Fairfield music director, recommended Carson Valley and Zabelsky for their next stop.

n Busy schedule. The group will be in Carson Valley from Dec. 3-6, and students will be housed with music department families. The director and adult chaperones will stay at the Carson Valley Inn.

Zabelsky received a list of all the members, which totals around 60 students. Each member submitted a student information sheet with a picture, address and personal information to be given to his or her host family.

“I’d have to say the first thing I’d love to try is root beer,” one student wrote, “I have no idea what it’s like.”

Another student wrote, “I would like to live the lifestyle of an average American person.”

Many of the students listed their “mum” as a member of their family, and loved to play “netball.”

Zabelsky is in the process of planning an exciting and performance-filled weekend for his foreign visitors. They will perform at three elementary schools on Friday. That night, the DHS Madrigal Singers will perform at Western Nevada Community College, so Aussies staying with members of the Madrigals will be able to accompany them and cheer in the audience.

Saturday, the band will march in the Parade of Lights from Gardnerville to Minden, and then travel to Lake Tahoe for some Nevada sightseeing.

The band is not so confident when it comes to marching, though. In an e-mail Hammond sent Zabelsky, Hammond wrote, “They are a bit overwhelmed when it comes to marching because they are aware of the great marching tradition in the United States, and they don’t do anything like that.”

The band will leave on Sunday and drive to Las Vegas.

Zabelsky said he is very excited to meet them and hopes that someday Douglas students might be able to go to Sydney. He had to laugh, though, when Hammond asked Zabelsky in an e-mail if they would have to play to him in jail, indicating that Zabelsky’s recent disturbing the peace citation which been reported internationally. The citation eventually was dropped.

“With all the emphasis on language competency, one can truly see that music is the universal language,” Zabelsky said.

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