Playing in the Olympic Band
|Melanie Farr with her herald trumpet.|
Congratulations on being selected one of the best musicians in the state of Utah! This was the message that Melanie Farr received last May, 2001, nearly a year before the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympics were to begin. Two-hundred and ninety Utah student musicians from all parts of the state made their way to the University of Utah that May. Their objective was to audition for a few select positions to form the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Spirit Band. Most auditioning were college students, a few were from high schools. That day was an anxious one for them, although Melanie felt almost comfortable. Her feelings paid off when the audition results were posted and she was one of the six piccolo finalists. All together 112 students playing wind instruments and 20 students playing percussion instruments brought the total band members to 132.
Their first rehearsal was five hours long and began shortly after the auditions on May 15. Rehearsals continued every two weeks at the University of Utah all summer and fall until January, most lasting eight hours each. The rehearsals increased to two times a week in January. The schedule was very demanding as most of the students continued their schooling the whole time. Band members came from as far away as Cedar City, Ephraim and Logan. They were very dedicated to spend the amount of time that was required to perform for such an important, once in a lifetime event. Many people spent many hours for the Winter Olympics and the band members were at the top of the list in dedication.
The Olympic Spirit Band was such an awesome sounding band. The Spirit Band performed in both Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Winter Olympics, plus Opening Ceremonies for the Paralympics. NBC didn't get the band in their cameras very often, but if you did see the band, they were playing long silver herald trumpets with banners hanging off them. They looked fantastic in their combination of white, turquoise, and silver outfits and white cowboy style hats and duster coats. As Tim, Mark, and I went to the pre-dress rehearsal, it was awesome to see the Begay family and Melanie performing in the same Olympic ceremony. We are all so proud of their representation of Emery County.
The Spirit Band's debut was at the Torch Arrival ceremony at Washington Square in Salt Lake City on the night before Opening Ceremonies. We actually got to see the band up close on all of Salt Lake's local TV stations. On the first day of the Olympics, the band spent most of the day in Park City entertaining the crowds awaiting the first events. It was so cold that many of the instruments, including Melanie's piccolo, formed tubes of ice inside them.
There were smaller 15 and 30 piece "showbands" that performed at all the venues, all being part of the large Olympic Band. Some of you may have seen Melanie if you were by the Delta Center at around 5 p.m. Each night the entire band performed in the intersection by the Medals Plaza. They gave a 40 minute concert nightly throughout the Olympics. They were such an impressive group. One of the pieces they played was specifically arranged for them by the famous composer, John Williams, plus the beautiful and moving "America the Beautiful" was arranged just for this Olympic Band.
Melanie met many important people. She was interviewed and filmed by a few international and out-of-state news reporters and posed for many pictures. The Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Spirit Band was wonderful. Melanie said it was very tiring but an awesome experience. The students will never forget the experience they had in "being" in the Olympics.