A Cedar Park saxophonist experienced the trip — and performance — of a lifetime this summer.
Fifteen-year-old Will Lambert, who will be a sophomore at Cedar Park High School this month, was one of just 250 high school musicians selected to perform at the world-famous Sydney Opera House in Australia as a part of the 2018 High School Honor Performance Series on July 21.
“It was a long shot,” Will said of applying along with 12,000 other high school students. “I thought I wouldn’t make it but I say I might as well try and I ended up making it and I loved it, it was great. Getting on the stage, I was a little bit nervous, but more than anything I was excited. It was such a cool experience, I’m so glad I got to do it.”
Lambert plays tenor sax and is currently in the CPHS Wind Symphony band under the direction of Christopher Yee and takes private lessons with teacher Billy McPhail.
In order to pay the expenses for travel to Sydney, Lambert asked neighbors if they needed help with day-to-day tasks including babysitting, pet-sitting, house-sitting and mowing lawns. Lambert utilized his time to help his community while fulfilling his dream to go to Sydney through hard work and determination.
The students chosen for this prestigious series represented 44 states and four countries. As a part of his trip, Lambert was able to spend six days in Sydney, where he studied under master conductors, explored the “Harbour City,” and met several world-renowned musicians.
“I got to meet a lot of cool people: other motivated musicians and it was awesome to perform at the Opera House,” Will said.
Lambert began playing four years ago in sixth grade, and his mother Christine said she’s never had to push Will to practice.
“He really does love it,” said Christine. “I don’t have to say anything. It’s something he does on his own and wants to do.”
Retired Cedar Park Middle School band director Manuel San Luis had nominated Lambert last year for the 2017 Middle School Performance Series at Carnegie Hall in New York City, where he was accepted and performed last summer. Because he was nominated for that series, Lambert was allowed the opportunity to apply for the 2018 High School Honor Performance Series in Sydney. In preparation for the concert, members of the series practiced for six hours a day for four days before the concert.
“I think the band is like a family,” said Christine. “I know that, at school, Will’s got a great group of friends, he has a safe place to go and his band director and private lesson teacher are the best. They act like uncles to him. It’s not just about teaching him music, they talk about life lessons, being confident, being a good person and so I’m really happy with it all. Also, when he performs, I just get happy tears. It all comes together when the band performs. They sound like angels.”
Lambert is currently involved in his second marching band season, which started on Monday. He also works with the Austin Saxophone Ensemble, a group consisting of graduates of the Butler School of Music at UT Austin, who are all professional musicians in the greater Austin area as players, teachers and composers that make connections with local saxophone students. Lambert is also a Life Scout, applying to become an Eagle Scout with his project helping a non-profit organization called Carrying Hope. He is working on making backpacks filled with pajamas, toothbrushes and changes of clothes for Austin-area foster children.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity I got to do this,” said Will. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of my fantastic conductors and private lesson teachers.”
Will lives in Cedar Park with his parents, Bill and Christine, and his three younger siblings, brothers Riley, 13, Christian, 9, and sister Hailey, who is 7 years old.
“I like being able to see, when I’m done playing, all my efforts I put into were paid off,” said Will. “I just really love to play and perform.”