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TOP BRASS: Two Falcons picked for Orange Bowl

Gabe Justice and Samuel Walker were selected to march at the Orange Bowl. Gabe Justice and Samuel Walker were selected to march at the Orange Bowl.

Two students at West Henderson High School will be marching in a nationally known arena in January.

Seniors Gabe Justice and Samuel Walker were selected to be a part of the 2014 All Star Invitational Marching Band. To audition, the marching Falcons musicians submitted a sound clip and video, a board of college band directors reviewed. The opportunity allows high school musicians from across North America to perform in front of more than 75,000 fans at the annual Discover Orange Bowl in Miami.
"It is a great honor to have students representing West Henderson at such a big event," said West Henderson band director Allen Klaes. "They will like the increased difficulty level of music."
Inspired by his mother's high school band experience, Justice began playing the trumpet seven years ago. After learning the basics, he "just kept at it."
"It is relaxing," he said. "You get in there and you are in your own little world. You get caught up. It can be challenging at times and other times it is really easy."
Walker's interest in music was sparked in the fourth grade by his father's knack for the guitar. In middle school he began playing the trumpet and switched to tuba three years ago.
"At the time, my band director didn't have a tuba for marching band," said Walker. "Not a lot of people can carry and play the tuba because it is such a large instrument, which gives me more opportunities as a musician."
He was selected last year for the Honor Bowl, from applicants across the country to perform with other high school students in Europe for a month.
"Spending time around other musicians at my caliber of playing was really helpful," he said. "I learned a lot more about not only my instrument but also about how a band and a chorus work together."
Both students must have the music memorized when they arrive in Miami. They'll rehearse for six days leading up to two shows — a fast prep time the Falcon players.
"At West Henderson, it takes us a couple of weeks to learn the routines," said Walker.
Both are looking forward to the challenge, and to performing alongside other all-star high school musicians for some of the leading marching band directors in America.
"It is going to be awesome," Justice said. "When I am out there and playing in front of a crowd, the adrenaline starts pumping. It is a different experience and there will be thousands of people. I am a little bit nervous just because I won't know who I am playing with."
Both seniors plan to continue their music in college.
Walker plans to attend Western Carolina University and play tuba in the Catamounts' "Pride of the Mountains" marching band. Justice has applied to the University of South Carolina, Mars Hill College, Gardner-Webb University and Western Carolina University