In front of millions of TV viewers across the globe, members of San Jose's Valley Christian High School East-West Fusion All-Star Band executed one of the toughest turns in the marching-band world on New Year's Day at the Tournament of Roses Parade.

The 105-degree right turn -- from Orange Grove Boulevard onto Colorado Boulevard -- was even more challenging than usual because Valley Christian band members were performing with students from Beijing and didn't have much time to practice the maneuver together. Tuesday's turn required keeping time with their feet while simultaneously performing.

"It was both exciting and a little nerve—racking," said Valley Christian junior Mark Muendelein, the band's drum major. "Pretty much the whole world is watching you -- everybody you know is watching the TV and you are just out there."

In the end, the students moved seamlessly in one of the nation's most prestigious annual parades, which preceded the Stanford Cardinal's 20-14 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers during the 99th Rose Bowl.

"It's near the beginning of the parade -- where all the network TV crews are set up," Valley Christian's band director, Troy Gunter, said of the tricky turn hours after the parade's conclusion. "No pressure there. It's what keeps band directors awake at night."

Added Gunter: "The kids performed really well."

Band members from the San Jose high school and their counterparts from Beijing's No. 57 High School made history as the first dual-nation group to march in the Tournament of Roses Parade. The students had met each other last spring when Valley Christian's band visited Beijing. But they only had one day to really practice that turn before they traveled together by bus to Southern California on Friday. The dual-nation group also performed at Disneyland over the weekend.

Though language problems created communication headaches, the students quickly learned to improvise -- using hand gestures and lots of smiles to get to know each other.

"If you give the Chinese kids a sheet of music, they can read it just as well as you can," said Muendelein, a trumpet player. "We can play the same music."

The band performed famed South Carolina composer Jay Bocook's "Aztec Fire," and another original by him that melds an American folk tune called "Shenandoah" with the Chinese classic "Jasmine Flower." And their specially created uniforms -- blue for Valley Christian, red for No. 57 -- set them apart from the other bands.

Tuesday's wake-up call came at 4:30 a.m., though the students didn't start marching until about 9 a.m.

Parade organizers, made up of some 900 volunteers, ran the event with military precision, Gunter said. With more than 20 marching bands participating in the parade, the Bay Area and Chinese musicians found themselves in a parking lot jammed with buses, where they waited until assembling in their parade spot shortly after 8 a.m. The fusion band of 237 young musicians marched for about two hours along the 5.5-mile parade route, ending just after 11 a.m.

Every year, scores of bands from around the country apply to participate in the New Year's Day parade in Pasadena.

"It's a very prestigious honor to be picked," Gunter said. "It has been my dream of 20 years."

The Valley Christian students will return to San Jose on Wednesday, while their Chinese counterparts move on to Las Vegas and San Diego before returning to Beijing.

"It was brilliant and awe-inspiring -- such an incredible moment," said Valley Christian senior Sarah Bauer, who plays the flute. "It's hard for me to put it into words. Just turning the corner from Orange Grove Boulevard onto Colorado Boulevard and seeing an endless sea of humanity and playing music alongside my Chinese friends -- I will remember the moment for the rest of my life."

Contact John Boudreau at 408-278-3496; follow him at Twitter.com/svwriter.