MUNSTER | Percussionist Bridget Parker in May found herself under the gilded arch of a New York City theater where numerous musical legends have played for more than 100 years.
The ensemble was seated, and Parker had taken her spot in back. Then there was silence. For a few moments the house was still. The first song began, and for an hour the young musicians held the spotlight at Carnegie Hall.
"I was kind of numb because I was trying to focus on my music, but it was hard," the 2007 Munster High School graduate said.
"The entire time I was thinking 'Oh, my gosh, I'm playing at Carnegie Hall, and there is a full house watching me.' It was kind of scary, but I zoned it out because I was trying to play."
Parker, 20, is a music education major at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., and auditioned for the 65-member National Collegiate Wind Ensemble, which played at Carnegie on May 24 as part of its time-honored Ensemble Spotlight Series.
After the last pound on the gong during the final piece, Parker glanced up and saw the audience rising to a standing ovation.
"It all hit me as soon as I looked up from the back, and I saw everyone on their feet," she said.
"It was overwhelming and surreal. It knocked me off my feet. That's when I got teary because I'd checked off one of things I wanted to do before I die.
"I'm only 20, and you don't always get that chance."
Parker felt the mystique of performing in the same venue as such musical greats as Yo-Yo Ma, Luciano Pavarotti, Benny Goodman, Judy Garland, The Beatles and Thelonius Monk.
"It was overwhelming to think back," Parker said.
"There were pictures all over backstage of famous people who had played there. Just stepping onto that stage and knowing who had been there before me was a big deal."
Her mother, Julie Glavin, was awe-struck.
"We were all just pinching each other," Glavin said. "She walked out and was very poised. She's a performer. She has body language, has fun, moves with the music and just lights up. It just tickles her."
Parker has been playing percussion instruments since fifth-grade.
"After every single performance -- no matter where -- she always asks me 'You cried, didn't you?'" Glavin said.
"This time she asked me if I cried and I said, 'Yes,' and she said 'So did I.'"
The ensemble played five selections under conductors H. Robert Reynolds from the University of Southern California and Peter Witte from the University of Missouri.
This summer, Parker is playing in the Michigan City Municipal Band and helping with Munster's marching band drum line. She is set to graduate in 2011 and would like to teach music education at the middle school level.