Two Colusa High School band students will make their way to the Big Apple early Thursday morning to take part in the Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall.

Josh Arce and Alec Schantz were among 750 students to be accepted from a pool of 18,000 who auditioned for a place in the Honors Performance Series. For the performance at Carnegie Hall, Arce will be playing the alto saxophone, while Schantz will be playing the clarinet.

Schantz, a junior at Colusa High, was selected to perform in the Performance Series High School Honors Band for the second consecutive year. Arce, a sophomore, will be making the trek to New York for the first time.

The preparation for the event began in spring, when Arce and Schantz selected their audition pieces and put in hours of preparation with Michael Phenicie, the band teacher in Colusa.

"The pieces were way more advanced than what I was used to playing," Arce said on Monday. "I wanted to push myself to reach my goals."

The boys sent off their 3-5 minute audition tapes and applications in June, which were reviewed by a board of music professionals. Schantz and Arce were notified of their selection in October.

"I was in the car on my way to a jazz festival in Chico. I wanted to wait for Phen (Colusa Band instructor Michael Phenicie) to open it, but I ended up reading it in the car," Arce said.

"He told me he made it in, so I looked at the email and threw my phone at my parents and told them to read it for me," Schantz said.

The work didn't stop there, however. To raise money for the trip to New York, Schantz and Arce have been performing at events across the county.

"Most of the money came from the kids going out and performing. They put on maybe six or seven performances," said Phenicie. "They went out and played Christmas carols around Colusa. They played at the hospital for the reopening of the gift shop. They played the Chocolate Festival."

In addition to the funds raised through performances, Arce and Schantz approached the Colusa Rural Firefighters Association and received a donation. Phenicie also applied for and will be receiving a grant from Premier Mushrooms Inc. for the Carnegie trip.

Arce and Schantz will be in good company in New York. The High School Honors Performance Series consists of both vocal and instrumental groups, which are comprised of some of the brightest young musicians in the world. The Honors Performance Series seeks to challenge these gifted high school musicians and provide them with an opportunity to rehearse and perform under master conductors.

The High School Honors Instrumental performance will take place on Sunday, Feb. 7 at 5:30 p.m. Schantz and Arce face a demanding practice schedule, with 8-9 hour rehearsals scheduled for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before the performance.

Conducting the Honors Band will be Dr. Kenneth Ozzello, the Director of Bands and Professor of Music at the University of Alabama. Ozzello is the conductor of The Alabama Wind Ensemble and the director of The University of Alabama's "Million Dollar Band" — the official name for the university's marching band.

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