SOMERVILLE, NJ – The 50-member Van Derveer Elementary School Band traveled to Newark Tuesday night to perform for the fans of the New Jersey Devils on the concourse of the 16,000-seat Prudential Center.
The fifth-graders’ 15 minutes of fame came in between the first and second periods of the game when they performed "Star Wars (Main Theme)," " "We Will Rock You," "Another One Bites the Dust," a VDV favorite "Let's Go Ville," songs from the students’ method book, “Tradition of Excellence,” and a special performance of “Happy Birthday” for one of the band members who will have a birthday to remember.
Under the direction of Christine Wojewoda, band director, the students had rehearsed for three months. Their original performance date of March 14 was postponed until Tuesday night because of the snow storm that hit New Jersey and the metropolitan area.
“Our band students did a fantastic performance last night,” Wojewoda said. “This morning, my band students were very happy and proud of their unforgettable performance. My band students and their families felt this was an awesome experience.”
Principal Robert Reavey congratulated band members over the loud speaker during the morning announcements and sent out a congratulatory “Tweet” with photo on Twitter, according to the band director.
“There’s not too many people that can say they performed at the Prudential Center,” Wojewoda said.
The Prudential Center, home to the New Jersey Devils National Hockey League franchise, hosts over 200 live events annually, from rock and Gospel concerts to college basketball and professional hockey games.
The Devils also offer community groups – karate clubs, dance groups and schools - the opportunity to perform throughout the NHL season.
Wojewoda, who describes herself as a “huge” Devils fan, attends games frequently and was immediately hooked on the idea of her young musicians performing at a big-time venue when she first heard of the Devils’ Group Experience opportunity.
“It really hit me, I really need to do something like this with my fifth-grade band,” she said.
The Devils supplied a secure room for the students to store their instrument cases and personal belongings; the band warmed up in the room prior to their 10-minute performance, according to the band director.
The Devils lost the game 4-3 to the Winnipeg Jets, but that didn’t seem to matter much to the proud parents, family members and friends who traveled to the game to support the young musicians.