Colten May has always wanted to see the Statue of Liberty.

The Garden City High School senior will soon have his chance to see Lady Liberty after he was selected for the 2018 High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

“It was kind of funny. I was in the band room, and I literally just collapsed on the floor…. I felt everything, I was just so overwhelmed,” May said of his reaction when he found out he was selected. “I had been practicing for up to six hours a day for 11 months on end, so it was a really big deal.”

May will perform on his euphonium in February with the 2018 International Honors Band.  Participation in one of the five Honors Ensembles is limited to the highest-rated high school performers from across the world, according to a press release from USD 457.

Earlier this year, May auditioned for the Honors Performance Series and was accepted after a review by the Honors Selection Board. 

Acceptance to the elite group is a direct result of the talent, dedication, and achievements demonstrated in his application and audition recording, according to the release.

May said he initially received an invitation in the mail to audition for the performance and received it because he made All-State Band in 2017.

May will join other performers from all 50 United States plus the District of Columbia, Guam, six Canadian provinces, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand, Qatar, South Korea, and the United Kingdom for a special performance at world-famous Carnegie Hall, a venue that marks the pinnacle of musical achievement.

“Being selected to the Honors Performance Series is something each Finalist should be extremely proud of accomplishing. We processed more than 18,000 nominations this year and have selected nearly 700 of the most talented student performers from around the world,” Morgan Smith, Program Director said in a press release. “Working with these conductors and performing at Carnegie Hall is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that these musicians never forget”.

May said being selected from such a large talent pool makes the honor even more special.

“I didn’t know that it was an international band, I thought it was just national, for those who made all-state, so I thought it was a very small margin I had to compete against, but I was wrong,” May said.

May said in the band, there are only 400 spots, but for his instrument, there are only about six euphonium spots.

“It’s a lot more cut throat… It’s a very small margin,” May said.

May first got into music in fifth grade when he wanted to be a drummer, May said, adding that a teacher gave him a drum set to take home in elementary school since he tapped on the tables so much.

“I got really interested in that (drumming), but my band teacher told me that good drummers are a dime a dozen, but what you don’t find are good euphonium players,” May said. “So he gave me private drum lessons if I played the euphonium and I played it for two years. That’s where it kind of kicked off.”

May also plays the trombone, piano, sings, and percussion, but out of all of those, the euphonium is his favorite.

A euphonium is a valved, brass instrument that resembles a small tuba. May said he likes the euphonium is because it sounds the closest to the human voice singing when played.

Finalists will come together in New York City for five days in February, where they will have the opportunity to learn from world-renowned conductors, work with other finalists, and get a taste of New York City.

Traveling to New York will be May’s first time traveling outside of the Midwest, he said.

“I really want to see the Statue of Liberty, I’d love to see that,” May said, adding that he he will get to attend a broadway show, see history museums, the 9/11 Memorial, and have a private yacht cruise on the Hudson River as part of the trip.

Two performances, an Honors Choral Performance and an Honors Instrumental Performance, will take place Feb. 4, and are open to the public. Tickets can be purchased beginning 60 days prior to the performance through the Carnegie Hall box office, according to the release.

May said he is most excited about gaining more experience in the music world.

“It’ll show me where I need to get if I want to be over the top, one of the best, and how much harder I have to work,” May said. “I just can’t wait to be even more humbled by what I see and what I experience in New York.”

May plans to attend Garden City Community College, and then transfer to a university that best suits him, he said.

He hopes to to become a music teacher in the future, May said,

“I was a small-town kid that wasn’t given much of a chance to go anywhere, so I would like to be a small-town teacher to give other kids a chance that really never got one,” May said.

Some of May’s other accomplishments as a musician include:

Principle euphonium in both the GCHS wind ensemble and Southwest Kansas Music Educators Association (SWKMEA); 3rd chair Euphonium for the 2017 Kansas All-State band; District Honor band; Trombone in all three GCHS Jazz Ensembles; 1st Trombone in the SWKMEA District Honor Jazz Band, 2nd Trombone - Kansas Big Band Flat Land Jazz Band, Superior Solo Euphonium ratings three years in a row; lead role of Benny in the "In the Heights" musical; three-year member of District Honor band/ Jazz band; three years of involvement of musical pit (Trombone); Municipal band participation; Christian singer/songwriter (Piano/Vocal); and a soloist in the Marching Stampede's 2017 halftime show "Dreamspaces".

Contact Josh Harbour at