Memorial Day Choral Festival 2015 – Sunday, May 24th!

Festival Performance - Dr. Craig Jessop, Conductor (9)

MCI is proud to present the 2015 Memorial Day Choral Festival happening this Sunday, May 24th, at 3:00PM at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall in Washington, D.C.  Ten choirs from across the United States will be performing together en masse under the direction of Craig Jessop, artistic director and conductor, as well as Col. Larry H. Lang and Col. Arnald D. Gabriel, conductors.

This 300-voice festival choir will be performing on stage with the United States Air Force Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.

We are proud to feature the following choirs at the Memorial Day Choral Festival this Sunday:

American Festival Chorus, Logan, UT
Arkansas Northeastern College Choir, Blytheville, AR
Corvallis First Presbyterian Chancel Choir, Corvallis, OR
Cuyahoga Community College Chorale, Cleveland, OH
Fayetteville High School A Cappella Choir, Fayetteville, AR
Nutley High School Choirs, Nutley, NJ
Peninsula Musical Arts Association, Foster City, CA
Sounds Choir, Idaho Falls, ID
Voices of the Commonwealth, Lakeside Park, KY
William A. Hough High School Concert Choir, Cornelius, NC

For more information, please visit the festival website. We look forward to welcoming the performers and YOU to the Kennedy Center in DC on Sunday. See you there and Happy Memorial Day!

Join Us LIVE at the 2015 National Memorial Day Parade!

American Flag_05

Happy Memorial Day Weekend from MCI Headquarters! We are incredibly excited about all of the Memorial Day festivities about to happen over the weekend in Washington, D.C., and we hope that YOU can join us and be a part of it all in our nation’s capital!

First of all, the 2015 National Memorial Day Parade is going to be incredibly special, featuring a number of veterans from all five Armed Forces branches planning to attend, as well as a slew of celebrities co-hosting and headlining the event itself. 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II, and MCI is proud to collaborate with a variety of individuals and organizations to commemorate the occasion, including:

  • Actors Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna
  • Rita Cosby and Paul Berry, with Kirsten Haglund (Miss America 2008) as Parade Hosts and special correspondent
  • Celebrity Chef and Royal Navy veteran Robert Irvine
  • Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev
  • Professional wrestler and Purple Heart recipient Chris Melendez
  • Special musical guests Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins and American Idol winner Caleb Johnson
  • Historical war re-enactors, veterans organizations, and over 1,000 active duty military personnel
  • The Veterans of World War Two serving as this year’s official Parade Grand Marshals

Bryan High School Viking Marching Band_02

We would especially like to warmly welcome over 20 high school marching bands from across the United States participating in the parade as featured performers, helping celebrate the American spirit of Memorial Day, as well as commemorating the sacrifices made by our past and present American heroes:

Methuen Ranger Band_02

The U.S. Army Band, as well as the U.S. Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, and Marine Corps Marching Platoons will also be marching in the parade.

The parade itself will take place on Monday, May 25th at 2pm along Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. in front of thousands of spectators. It is open to the public, free of charge, and a great event for people of all ages. The route is accessible via the Washington, DC metro and is easy to access via National Archives/Penn Quarter/Navy Memorial stop (yellow/green line) as well as the Federal Triangle and Smithsonian stop (orange/blue/silver line).

If you cannot make the parade in person, you will be able to watch a live telecast on a variety of TV networks as well as online via livestream. For more information, see the official parade broadcast information page.

We hope that you will join us in welcoming all of the featured performers to Washington, D.C. for the 2015 Memorial Day Parade, commemorating 150 years since the end of the Civil War, 70 years since the Allied victory in World War II, and ten years celebrating the annual tradition of the parade itself, which began in 2005. For more parade information, please visit the website of the American Veterans Center.

Stay tuned and informed by following Music Celebrations on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (musiccelebrations). We will be using hashtags #NMDParade and #MemorialDayInDC, and we encourage you to post your own pictures using those as well!

For all of you joining us both in person and online, we wish you a safe, happy, and healthy Memorial Day weekend, and see you at the parade!

US Army (12)

SPOTLIGHT: Neuqua Valley High School Festival Concert Band Tours Spain


The Neuqua Valley High School Festival Concert Band returned from a wonderfully successful tour of Spain last month, with performances in Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona. Chip Staley, director of bands and fine arts chair at Neuqua Valley High School, offered some high praise and thoughts on their travel experience. Congratulations, Neuqua Valley High School, and we hope to work with you again in the future!

Kudos to you and your staff for organizing a spectacular custom tour of Spain for the Neuqua Valley High School Festival Concert Band. We have come to expect the very best travel experience from MCI because of the concert tours you planned for us in China, Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic. MCI managed to exceed our highest expectations for our concert tour of Spain.

Tour managers make or break a trip. Unflappable, caring, witty, engaging, personable, helpful, meticulous, indefatigable, perfectionists; Silvia and Flavio provided the highest level of service during our 9 days in Spain. Our meals and accommodations were exceptional, our buses clean and comfortable, and our bus drivers punctual, courteous and professional. We visited many significant cultural and historical sites in Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona. Silvia and Flavio made certain we never wasted a minute. They were always three steps ahead, giving us tickets, moving us in and out of areas effortlessly. Instructions for where to go, what to see and when to gather for departure were always crystal clear. Students always felt properly informed, expertly guided and carefully protected. Our tour managers connected with everyone in our group. Not only would our students want to visit Spain again, but they would surely make it a priority to reconnect with Silvia and Flavio.

The most important aspect for us, as you know, is the performance experience. We asked you to organize joint concerts with Spanish wind bands in all three cities. Through your contacts in Spain, you set up performances with wonderful bands in each community during HOLY WEEK. This was no small task, but judging by the packed houses at each event, you definitely made certain to create a buzz in the community to motivate people to attend each concert.

Thank you so much for the service that you provided to our musicians travelling internationally. Leaders of exceptional music programs expect only the best for their students. “Once-in-a-lifetime” is the only way to describe an MCI tour. I highly recommend MCI for any international concert tour.

With Deep Appreciation,
Charles “Chip” Staley
Fine Arts Chair, Neuqua Valley High School



Spain Tour 2015 NVHS Band
Produced, filmed, and edited by Cole Bacani

SPOTLIGHT: Walton High School Orchestra Tours Czech Republic and Austria

Walton Orchestra at the Strauss Monument in Vienna

The renowned Walton High School Orchestra of Marietta, Georgia, recently returned from a successful tour of the Czech Republic and Austria, with stops in Prague, Salzburg, Eisenstadt, and Vienna. The orchestra was conducted by director Perry Holbrook and assistant director Sara Grimes. Their first tour performance was in Prague, at a packed-house concert in Dvořák Hall at the Rudolphinum, one of Europe’s oldest and acoustically superior concert halls, where they had multiple standing ovations and an audience pleading for more music.

Next, after visiting Mozart’s birthplace of Salzburg, Austria, they stopped in Eisenstadt, where the famed composer Joseph Haydn once lived and worked. They visited Schloss Esterházy, a palace constructed in the 13th century and owned by the Hungarian Esterházy family. There, they performed a concert with fellow ensemble Carmel High School Orchestra of Indiana at the Haydnsaal, named after Haydn himself, with beautifully ornate artwork and prime acoustics inside.

Their final tour stop was in Vienna, Austria’s capital city, where they visited Schloss Schönbrunn, a magnificent palace once owned by the Habsburg family and built in imitation of the iconic Versailles. There, they performed for a highly appreciative audience at the Orangerie, a grand hall within the palace featuring large windows and views of the orange trees outside in the garden. The tour was rounded out in high fashion in Vienna before they returned home the following day.

Repertoire highlights from the tour included Aaron Copelands “Hoedown” from Rodeo, Reinhold Gliére’s Russian Sailor’s Dance, the premiere of director Perry Holbrook’s new work, Someday, and Camille Saint Saëns’ Cello Concerto no. 1 featuring Holbrook’s daughter, Bailey Holbrook, as soloist.

Featured below is a photo gallery of some of their best tour highlights. We were delighted to work with one of the country’s finest high school orchestras on their tour to Eastern Europe. Congratulations, Walton High School Orchestra, and we hope to collaborate with you again on a future tour!

2015 National Memorial Day Parade to Air Live on REELZ

Bryan High School Viking Marching Band_02

“REELZ today announced that the men and women who have given their lives in defense of freedom in the world will be honored at The American Veterans Center’s 2015 National Memorial Day Parade airing live on Monday, May 25 starting at 2pm ET/ 11am PT. The Grand Marshals of this year’s Parade are the veterans of World War II with 2015 marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the war. Dozens of surviving veterans will represent the 16 million who served and American Flag_05more than 400,000 who made the ultimate sacrifice in winning the war. Viewers will have an additional opportunity to watch the 2015 National Memorial Day Parade on REELZ at 11:30pm ET/ 8:30pm PT on Monday, May 25.”

“The National Memorial Day Parade provides a unique opportunity to salute
America’s military – past, present and future,” said James C. Roberts, President of the American Veterans Center. “Here on Constitution Avenue in the heart of our nation’s capital, we express our thanks to the veterans who have served, to the active duty personnel serving now and the youth auxiliaries who will serve in the future. Most importantly, we observe the true meaning of Memorial Day by honoring all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of our liberties.”

(Via – Read the entire press release here)

Announcing the Windy City Choral Festival: April 14-16, 2016


Music Celebrations International is pleased to present the ninth-annual Windy City Choral Festival, April 14-16, 2016, in Chicago, Illinois. Mixed (SATB) choirs will join together to sing in one of the world’s great concert halls – Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In addition to being part of the Windy City Festival Chorus, four choirs will be selected by audition to conduct stand-alone performances on stage during the finale concert.  World-renowned choral conductor, composer, and Director of Choral Activities at Oklahoma State University, Dr. Z. Randall Stroope, will serve as Artistic  Director, and will lead the rehearsals and finale performance.

The name of Chicago was appropriately drawn from an Indian word meaning “strong” or “great.” True to its name, Chicago proudly offers some of the world’s  best museums, the highest buildings, the most renowned orchestras and choirs, the world-class Brookfield Zoo, a beautiful lakefront skyline, and of course,  Chicago dogs and pizza! With its wonderful musical heritage, Chicago will be the ideal host city to choirs around the country for this magnificent festival  experience.

All concert and tour production will be professionally provided by Music Celebrations International. For more information, please visit the festival website. We hope to see you in Chicago in 2016!

The Sound of Music 50th Anniversary Festival Tickets – AVAILABLE NOW!


The Hills are Alive! We are pleased to announce that tickets for our upcoming festival celebrating 50 years of The Sound of Music are now on sale! The choral extravaganza will take place at the world-renowned Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria on June 26, 2015. Join us for an unforgettable evening of classics from the production, including Edelweiss and Do-Re-Mi, as well as classics from other Rodgers and Hammerstein masterworks such as South Pacific, The King and I, Carousel, and more. Artistic direction will be led by Emmy and Grammy-nominated conductor and vocal educator, Judith Clurman.

Click here to order tickets!

We hope to see you in Austria for a wonderful evening celebrating this timeless feature film!

Lemoore High School Choir Tours Washington, D.C.

Lincoln Memorial

The Lemoore High School Choir of Lemoore, California, recently returned from a tour of Washington, D.C. as part of the National Festival of the States. The ensemble performed several times in the area, including at the Lincoln Memorial, Vinson Hall Retirement Community, and at a clinic led by renowned choral director Dr. Stanley Engebretson, Director of Choral Studies at nearby George Mason University. Choir director Dorie Talob shared some of her thoughts and impressions of the tour on behalf of the ensemble. It was a pleasure to work with the Lemoore High School choir on their D.C. tour, and we hope to work with them again in the future!

My personal highlight of the trip was participating in the Wreath Laying Ceremony with my husband, retired Lt. Cmdr. 22 years in the US Navy, and with my two students who are officers in the NJROTC Program.  They were all in full dress uniform as we presented the wreath with our school colors.  Another personal highlight, as a teacher and director, is just seeing the faces of the students as their eyes light up with every new experience from performing at the Lincoln Memorial to seeing all the beautiful architecture, museums, shows, and living and experiencing history!

I think the highlight of the trip for the performers was the VINSON HALL where the students felt so appreciated.  They loved the meet and greet with the residents.  A second highlight for them was unexpectedly getting to meet the cast of “Freedom’s Song”.  We were waiting for our bus and the cast was exiting out of the Ford Theater.  Of course, the students bombarded them, but the cast didn’t seem to mind.  They were so friendly, talking with the students, encouraging them to keep on singing and reaching for their dreams.

The National Festival of the States attracted me to MCI.  After that, the friendliness and helpfulness of the Staff reassured me that we would be in good hands and that our trip would be amazing!

It was a pleasure to work with the Lemoore High School choir on their D.C. tour, and we hope to work with them again in the future!

Announcing the 2nd annual Sousa Band Festival at the Kennedy Center

Music Celebrations International is pleased to present the Sousa Band Festival, an exclusive event that will take place on Saturday and Sunday, April 2-3, 2016, at the Concert Hall of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Four select concert bands will be featured in performance at this historic concert venue.

The program will emphasize the life and influence of John Philip Sousa, “The March King,” on the American Band movement. Participating bands will have the opportunity to visit important Sousa sites in Washington, D.C., including Historic Congressional Cemetery, where he was laid to rest.

Each band will also take part in a clinic with the renowned Colonel Arnald D. Gabriel, retired conductor of the United States Air Force Band.









Sousa began his musical career at age 6, when he first learned the violin. When the young Sousa turned 13, his father, a trombonist in the United States Marine Band, enlisted his son in the Marine Corps as an apprentice. Sousa served his apprenticeship for seven years, until 1875, and learned to play all the wind instruments while honing his mettle with the violin. Several years later, Sousa left his apprenticeship to join a theater orchestra where he learned to conduct.Elmer_Chickering_-_John_Philip_Sousa

Founded in 1798, the oldest professional music organization in the United States is the United States Marine Band. For all its rich history and traditions, it is probably best known as being led by Sousa from 1880 to 1892. These years started a very long and prolific period of march composition for Sousa, including legendary marches that are still performed today – The Washington Post, The Gladiator, and of course, The Stars and Stripes Forever. Semper Fidelis, in addition to being the motto of the United States Marine Corps, is also the title of the official march of the Corps, composed by Sousa in 1889.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a world-renowned arts complex on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. It opened in 1971 as a living memorial to the 35th President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Designed by architect Edward Durrell Stone, it was built by Philadelphia contractor John McShain and is administered by a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution. It is often referred to as the “National Center for the Performing Arts,” serving as the home of the National Symphony, Washington Ballet, Washington National Opera, and the Washington Performing Arts Society. Thousands of art performances are given annually on the various stages and theaters that exist within the structure.


Col. Arnald D. Gabriel retired from the United States Air Force in 1985 following a distinguished 36
year military career, at which time he was awarded his third Legion of Merit for his service to the United States Air Force and to music education throughout the country.Arnald-Gabriel

He served as Commander/Conductor of the internationally renowned U.S. Air Force Band, Symphony Orchestra, and Singing Sergeants from 1964 to 1985. In 1990, he was named the first Conductor Emeritus of the USAF Band at a special concert held at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

A combat machine gunner with the United States Army’s famed 29th Infantry Division in Europe during WW II, Gabriel received two awards of the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the French Croix de Guerre.

Col. Gabriel served on the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, from 1985 to 1995, as Conductor of the GMU Symphony Orchestra and as Chairman, Department of Music for eight of those years. In recognition of his ten years service to the university, he was named Professor Emeritus of Music.

Col. Gabriel’s professional honors include the very first Citation of Excellence awarded by the National Band Association, the Mid-West National Band and Orchestra Clinic’s Gold Medal of Honor and its Distinguished Service to Music Award, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia’s New Millennium Lifetime Achievement Award and its rarely presented National Citation for “significant contributions to music in America,” Kappa Kappa Psi’s Distinguished Service to Music Award, Phi Beta Mu’s Outstanding Contribution to Bands Award, and the St. Cecilia Award from the University of Notre Dame. Col. Gabriel was inducted into the National Band Association Hall of Fame of Distinguished Band Conductors, becoming the youngest person ever to have received this honor, and was an inaugural inductee to the Distinguished Alumni Wall of Fame of Cortland High School in Cortland, New York. He is also a Past President of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association.



How will YOU #BringChange this World Malaria Day?

Wesley FestivalOn Saturday, people across the globe will join together to honor World Malaria Day. The goal is to raise awareness about a disease that puts half the world’s population at risk and kills half a million children each year. Monumental efforts are underway to eradicate malaria, and in the last 15 years an estimated 4.2 million live were saved due to increased interventions.

However, there is still work to be done. YOU can be part of the solution. Attend the Wesley Choral Festival concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and all ticket proceeds will go to benefit Imagine No Malaria, an extraordinary effort to drastically reduce preventable deaths caused by malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa. The concert features The Wesley Festival Choir as well as celebrated soprano soloist, Adrienne Danrich. Repertoire includes works by Brahms, Bernstein, and Rutter, as well as a piece commissioned for the Wesley Festival by renowned choral composer, Mark Hayes.

Help us, help others. All you need to do is attend the concert. We hope to see you there!

Join the cause