Senior Mi So Kwak performs in the Rose Parade

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Not many high school students are given the privilege of being accepted into the Tournament of the Rose parade. However, Diamond Bar High School marching band member, senior Mi So Kwak, accomplished this feat.

Kwak was recently featured on NBC News for securing a spot in the prestigious Rose parade. After a week of practice, Kwak, participating with the Bands of America Honor band, played “Reflections of Earth,” “Firework” by Katy Perry, and “Stars and Stripes Forever,” while marching a 5.5-mile route.

“I have been to numerous parades but the Rose Parade was unlike any other. There were so many people cheering for the band throughout the route. I felt connected to them, especially when they sang Katy Perry’s Firework to our music. Initially, the 5.5 miles route seemed very long, but when we were done, I had tears [in my eyes] not because I was tired, but [because] I felt overwhelmingly emotional. I was sad that it was over, but happy that my dream of marching [in] the Rose Parade became a memory,” she said.

The senior flutist first encountered  information about the Rose Parade auditions on the Bands of America feed through her Twitter account. With the encouragement of Steve Acciani, DBHS music director, Kwak auditioned.

“I was surprised that I made it in, because I knew it was a nationwide audition process. I felt really happy that I got in, and knowing that it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience is just amazing. It is really special,” Kwak stated. During the application process however, Kwak went through technical difficulties; the audition recordings that had to be submitted through Smart Music Software were not compatible with the screen reader program she uses, a software for visually impaired people. Kwak wanted to halt the process altogether, but Acciani pushed her to complete the audition. After learning about her acceptance, Kwak started learning and memorizing the three pieces for the parade that was themed “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”

Kwak sends her thanks to the numerous individuals who have assisted her during the parade and throughout her years in marching band, notably DBHS marching instructor, Casey Bindl. “Casey is our marching band instructor, but for the parade, he was my guide. I really appreciate what he did for me because without him, it would have been impossible for me to march in the parade. I’m beyond grateful. I’m also thankful towards the many friends who have supported me throughout my involvement in marching band. Participating in the Rose Parade was an incredible blessing. I would like to thank DBHS staff and students for the huge support,” Kwak stated.   The DBHS senior was also recently selected for the Southern California State Honor Band and will perform in February. “Music is very important to me. Through music, I met awesome people and made new friends who really help me reach my goals. Being in marching band is something so special that nothing can replace it,” she said.