Alma Mater in Carnegie Hall

Originally published Feb. 27, 2012

Yesterday, I was privileged to be present as my alma mater, Madisonville North Hopkins High School, took the stage at Carnegie Hall in participation of the New York Wind Band Festival. The students were focused on their performance, and the result was a strong artistic interpretation of both new and standard works for the wind band repertoire. As I regularly work with youth in various pre-college programs in New York City and other music education programs, I can attest that the performance the Madisonville students gave last night was of a calibre rarely seen in youth ensembles in New York.  It made me quite proud. 

The highlight of the evening was the combined band’s world premiere of a new work for wind ensemble and solo trombone by local New York composer Anthony Barfield with Dr. Jonathon Whitaker of the University of Alabama as soloist.  Barfield’s reflective and compelling work, entitled “Here We Rest”, was a unique departure from much of the traditional repertoire written for solo trombone. Through haunting and lyric melodic lines and a rich dialogue between the soloist and the ensemble, Barfield has created a work that is uniquely American but harkens back to both Copland and Sibelius. The premier was successful, and the earnestness of the musicians in the ensemble as they explored their artistic abilities, as well as the rich tone and warm timbres created by Dr. Whitaker combined together to create a most memorable performance. 

Madisonville, Kentucky can once again be proud of its youth for another great artistic achievement: I’m so glad that I was able to play a part in it. 

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