Seaholm marching band performs in Rome

By: Brendan Losinski | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 18, 2017

BIRMINGHAM — The Seaholm High School marching band is used to going on the road, but this time the student-musicians went a bit farther than usual: Rome.

Leaving Detroit on Dec. 28 and returning Jan. 4, the high schoolers traveled to Italy to march in Rome’s New Year’s Day Parade. While they were there, they checked out several of the ancient city’s great historic sites.

Seaholm Band Director Tim Cibor said these trips are often a highlight of many students’ high school experience, and they can give them a new outlook on how they look at the world.

“The band travels every two years, and we rotate between one trip in the continental United States and one trip overseas,” explained Cibor. “We started planning this trip in 2014. The band has gone on trips to Austria and London before, and a trip to Rome came highly recommended from other band directors because of the rich history and cultural experience for the students.”

The family of each student had to pay for the travel costs, and 130 of the 220 students in the band went on the trip.

“The main thing we did was march in Rome’s New Year’s Day Parade on the Piazza di Popolo. We also marched in a small town called Frascati, which was cool because it let the kids experience Italy outside of the big city,” said Cibor. “We even met a Seaholm graduate from the class of 1950 who had moved to Frascati, and that was one of the best surprises from the trip.”

In addition to marching, the band members toured the sites, visiting several historic and cultural sites such as the Vatican, the catacombs of Rome, Pompeii, the Forum, the Circus Maximus and the Roman Coliseum.

“I think trips like this one provide the students with lifelong music memories,” said Cibor. “It allows them to take a craft they’ve honed since the fifth grade and use it to entertain people thousands of miles away. Adding to this is that they also get to see sites and experience highlights from other cultures, which they will remember their whole lives.”

The students themselves expressed how thrilled they were to be able to take such a journey and have such experiences.

“One of the highlights of the trip was getting a taste of the culture outside of what we have in Birmingham,” said senior Ben Williams, who plays the flute. “It was interesting to see how people used to live and how other people live now. Walking into the Sistine Chapel was one of the coolest moments. To see everyone enter that room and just be in awe of the artwork there, and to be surrounded by the importance and history of the room, was really incredible.”

While the sites were amazing, many students said the act of performing in the parade was an impressive memory in and of itself.

“The Coliseum and St. Peter’s (Basilica) were amazing,” said sophomore Lily Grills, who plays the trumpet. “It was so cool to see the size and the detail put into the architecture. My favorite moment was probably marching in the parade. There were 75,000 people watching, and they don’t really have marching bands over there, so people were coming up to us and taking photos with us. It was a really indescribable experience.”

Cibor said the trip went off without any major problems, and the students were on their best behavior. He remarked that they lived up to the high standards he expects of young people representing their school, community and country.

“What impresses me is how the band members are always at their best on these trips,” remarked Cibor. “They always behave in a way that shows they understand the ramifications of their actions, not only for themselves, but for future band members. The community can be proud of how these students represent them.”