East-West Fusion Band in 2013 Rose Parade

The 2013 Tournament of Roses Parade will feature a very unique group, the East-West Fusion All-Star Band, a combined band made up of the Valley Christian High School (VCHS) Marching Band from San Jose, Calif., and the Bejiing China No. 57 High School Band.

“It’s been a dream of mine for many years to have our band march in the Tournament of Roses, and we wondered what it would be like to team up with a marching band from one of the Asian countries,” says VCHS band director Troy Gunter, whose band has traveled to Thailand and Cambodia in recent years.

The VCHS students have a collective fundraising goal of $250,000 to pay for the trip to Pasadena, Calif., and for the spring break trip it took to China from April 9 to 16 to meet and rehearse with the Chinese students.

“It was great watching them interact— especially at the very beginning, there was a lot of awkwardness and silence, but when we started to play music, the barriers started to come down,” Gunter says. “Although there was a language barrier and many other challenges, when it came to music, we found out we had a lot in common.”

In December, the No. 57 Band will travel to San Jose to rehearse for several days and then travel to Southern California for performances at Disneyland, Bandfest and finally the Rose Parade.

“The marching band activity as a whole is still very young in China, so the students and staff were very eager to rehearse with us and learn the processes and what we do as an American marching band,” Gunter says. “The faculty and staff were like sponges trying to take in and learn all they could about how to run and coordinate rehearsals.”

Previously, the VCHS Band was the first American marching band to ever march down Main Street at Hong Kong Disneyland.

The Bejiing China No. 57 High School Band performed at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo and the 2008 Beijiing Olympics Opening Ceremonies.