The two bands held their first joint rehearsal Thursday in Gilroy. Practice took place in the parking lot of Gilroy Gardens Theme Park. The real performance will take place on national television. "Pretty much just excitement... We're really ready to go and prepared and excited," freshman Elyssa Rhea said.
San Jose's Valley Christian High School is not only marching in the Tournament of Roses Parade, but is the first band ever to team up with one from another nation, Beijing's No. 57 High School. Before Thursday, the only time the two groups met was on a visit to China in April.
"We're very excited about the opportunity. The challenge is the limited rehearsal time that we have, so that is what we are doing here today," Director Troy Gunter said. The two bands have been practicing in their home countries for more than a year and while language is a barrier, music is the common denominator.
Freshman Sun Hao, from Beijing 57, shared her thoughts through an interpreter. "She's really glad that we can practice together and be able to communicate and make friends," her interpreter said.
Together, the 235 musicians call themselves the "East Meets West Fusion Band." In addition to harmonizing the music, the performers must move in perfect step to negotiate a tricky 105-degree turn on the parade route. All eyes and cameras will be watching as they hit Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena. "I've never heard of any 105-degree turn and I've just usually seen 90s, and it's just scary," sophomore Shane Ryan said.
Some nerves are expected as the teenagers prepare for a performance of a lifetime but mostly, they just can't wait for the world to hear the sound they make as one. "They'll be hearing two cultures come together with a boom and a boom and a boom," Valley Christian junior Davis Gunter said.
If you tune in on New Year's Day, San Jose's Valley Christian will be wearing blue uniforms. Beijing 57 will be dressed in red. Together, the music will make history.