On top of its performance at the 2012 London Olympics, the Manta Ray Band has also been invited to showcase their talents in a 30-minute bonus show.
Musical director Will DeWitt told Saipan Tribune yesterday that the venue of the additional show is at the Olympic Park bandstand, adjacent to the basketball facility where Team USA stars such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant will see action on July 29.
The pride of Saipan Southern High School is already scheduled to perform at Westminster Abbey, Queen Elizabeth's Conference Center, and a torch ceremony in Central London.
According to DeWitt, the local students are one of just a handful of high school ensembles to receive an invite to perform inside the Olympic Park as officially recognized entertainers.
The band members are scheduled to fly to London the early morning of July 23.
To date, the group still needs $40,000 to meet their $250,000 target budget for the two-week tour, DeWitt said.
The deficit, it was learned, is for the band's incidentals, like certain meals, ground expenses, large instrument rentals in London, and the like.
In London, the students will be housed at the University of Central London in Camden. It is for this accommodation-much cheaper than lodging in hotels-that the band still owes payment. DeWitt told Saipan Tribune that the group has closed its fundraising gap from $90,000 to approximately $40,000.
“Considering that the total budget for this two-week tour is $250,000, a deficit of only $40,000 means we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, we are not yet out of the tunnel and seek continued support from our community, which has been incredibly generous and supportive throughout the past year,” he said.
He disclosed that the group's deadline for final payment is on July 15 and the band is appealing to those who may have been waiting “on the sidelines” to help them seal the deal.
DeWitt said the students themselves are gearing up for three more fundraisers, including a carwash at McDonald's Middle Road sponsored by the Lions Club of Saipan on July 8, from 7am to 2pm, and a rummage sale at Mt. Carmel Cathedral grounds on July 15, from 7 am to 4 pm. A bowling tournament and a radio telethon are also in the works.
Manta Ray Band members are also rehearsing for up to five hours per day to polish their repertoire, which includes Urban Dances (Erik Morales), We Are The World (Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie), Strategic Air Command (Clifton Williams), American Symphony from Mr. Holland's Opus, Sleep (Eric Whitacre), Mariana Variations (CNMI Anthem), Soul Bossanova (Quincy Jones), and songs by Earth Wind and Fire, and more.
“I really think our kids are going to be fantastic ambassadors for the CNMI in every way,” said DeWitt, adding that every performance will be filmed by a media specialist who will accompany the group to London.
If any individual or business would like to add their name to the band's growing list of supporters, contact DeWitt at 989-6987 or email@example.com. Educational tax credit donations, DeWitt said, remain a popular and convenient tool for many to give generously during difficult economic times.