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White House Open House Graced with Performance by PHS Brass Ensemble

The six-member brass ensemble performed for the second time at the White House Christmas Open House, this past weekend. District 211 released more details on the trip and what it meant to students and staff.

The Palatine High School Brass Ensemble performed at the White House Christmas Open House on Saturday, December 15.

Below is the official release about this great honor, from District 211:

While guests attended a tour of festive decorations at the White House, a popular spectacle each holiday season in Washington D.C., students in Palatine High School’s band received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to personally add a touch of holiday cheer to the event through music.

Six students in Palatine High School’s Brass Ensemble were honored to play at the White House during the White House Holiday Open House on Dec. 15. The group performed a two-hour set and rotated 30 different holiday carols throughout the day.

“We’re all walking a little taller,” said Raeleen Horn, Palatine High School’s music department chair and band director. “To receive an invitation like this and to have an opportunity to see it happen is just an outstanding honor for all of us.”

The Brass Ensemble includes students Jon Szabo and Natalie Stevens on trumpet, Joe VanBladel and Kirsten Eissman on trombone, Jenna Campbell on French horn, and Ken Cervenka on tuba.

Horn conducted the ensemble’s performance and said this is an opportunity for students to give back and share their music with others. “I am extremely honored to be given the privilege to play at the White House.

It’s an incredible opportunity for us as students, and the music department as a whole,” said Jenna Campbell. “I hope we made Miss Horn and Palatine High School proud.”

The White House Holiday Open House was a ticketed event for White House staff members. Those individuals toured the White House to view various holiday decorations and listen to the Brass Ensemble perform.

The PHS group was in Washington D.C. from December 14 to December 16, and had the opportunity to explore the city and sightsee after their performance on Dec. 15. Miss Horn also took her students to see the National Symphony Orchestra perform its Holiday Pops Concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Each aspect of the trip was an honor for the students, but the highlight was of course the White House performance.

“I think it is a great honor to play at the White House, and it really shows that our hard work is recognized throughout the country,” student Jon Szabo said.
Miss Horn brought members of her band to perform at the White House in 2010, and said because it was a fantastic experience she applied for the opportunity to bring her students back.

This is Miss Horn’s final year teaching at Palatine High School, and she will retire in the spring. She said it was great to see her students perform at the White House one more time.

“The students were just incredibly excited,” Miss Horn said. “They said they remembered when the previous group went, and they all said that it’s such an honor. They were just ecstatic.”

Information provide by District 211. 

Editor's Note: This version of the article is a revision from the initially published article on Monday, December 17. 

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