Three Odessa High School percussionists will be heading to Carnegie Hall next month as part of the Honors Performance Series.
Gabriel Haley, an 18-year-old senior, and brothers Zaviea and Ezaiah Cisneros will be on the trip with OHS Associate Band Director Jimmy Olague. Zaviea is a 15-year-old sophomore, and Ezaiah is a 17-year-old senior.
Olague said they submitted an audition tape and the best players for those instruments are chosen.
Ezaiah plays the snare drum; Zaviea plays the marimba; and Haley plays timpani.
The students and Olague will fly out Jan. 31. The program starts Feb. 1 and they will fly back on Feb. 5, Olague said.
This is the highest number of OHS students that have selected for a while. There were more than 10,000 applicants from all over the world this year, Olague said.
“They will perform with students from Qatar, possibly China, Japan, and of course, all around the country,” he said.
Ezaiah said playing at Carnegie Hall is pretty exciting.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to fly out to like someplace miles and miles away … to New York of all places. I think it’s really insane, he added.
Haley said his brother was in orchestra and played in Carnegie Hall.
“I’m really happy about it because I don’t know how much I’ll be able to continue music in college, but I’ve really enjoyed it in high school. I don’t know if I can continue with band. I won’t give up music, but being able to do this one thing before I leave is something I’m really happy about because not going into college as a musician playing at Carnegie Hall is not something I’ll probably had an opportunity to do again,” Haley said.
Ezaiah said he was a little shocked to be chosen.
Zaviea said he felt the same way and he’s pretty excited, too.
“We didn’t know what to think. We didn’t know if we were going to make it,” Zaviea said.
Olague said Zaviea was accepted when he was in middle school in 2020, but COVID hit and everything stopped. He’s getting a chance to go now.
The two said going to New York together seems like a road trip.
Ezaiah said their older brother went to Carnegie Hall twice and remembers the experience very fondly.
“He’s always hyping us up about how cool it’s going to be. So that kind of gives us a lot more excitement to go,” Ezaiah said.
Haley said there wasn’t any pressure on him to get to Carnegie Hall.
“The main reason I went for it is because I wanted that opportunity to do something really big before I’m out of my high school. My opportunities to do something like this would be practically zero,” Haley said.
Olague said it’s kind of unusual to have three percussionists make it to the Honors Performance Series.
“… The competition is pretty fierce, so you talk to them about it, and they work on their audition and you send it in and you just hope that they get chosen by the talent that’s out there. And luckily for me, they did,” Olague said.
Having all three go is gratifying for Olague.
“It’s very prideful for me personally. I’ve seen them grow up and … (the) incredible rounded musicians they’ve become just by them growing up and working hard the past few years. It’s just amazing. I sit back in awe and think about this opportunity that they’re going to participate in. That’s something that I only dreamt about when I was a high school kid and in the band,” he added.
While they’re in New York, they plan to see a Broadway play and take a cruise around the city.
Ezaiah is hoping to study music in college. He’s hoping to get into Berklee College of Music to pursue a jazz composition or contemporary writing or production degree. But he has already been accepted to the University of North Texas, but not yet to the music program.
The Cisneros brothers are the third generation of band musicians in their family.
Haley took band in middle school.
“I took percussion up pretty naturally,” he said. “But I think if there’s a reason that I really wanted to continue it in high school would be going to my first Night of Percussion (in seventh grade).”
Olague said on the business end of things, they aren’t asking for donations as the musicians are paying for their trip, but if anyone would like to help out, they can donate to the Odessa High Band Boosters, P.O. Box 1842, Odessa, Texas, 79761.