With a sense of anticipation late this afternoon, I took a seat in the darkened and hushed auditorium in the Webb City High School Performing Arts Building. Ninety-nine area high schoolers from 27 different school districts took their places on the large stage for the All District Honor Band Concert. My grandson, Dayan, playing the tuba and representing Carl Junction, was among those talented musicians.
Under the direction of Dr. Timothy Oliver, from Arkansas State University, the band played vibrantly, beautifully, as they performed. I settled back in my seat with a sigh and listened. Incidental Suite, with its three movements, had the big sound and feel of a movie soundtrack. Different Voices was unique in that the piece incorporated the band members own voices. During the second movement their rising and falling whispers added interest to the musical number. I loved that Dr. Oliver, before this work was played, informed us that during the piece we would wonder if the band was “doing something.” The answer he said, was that yes, they were doing something. I laughed, without really knowing what he meant, but as the whispering started, I understood. They WERE doing something indeed!
Mass from La Fiesta Mexicana was a more sober and reflective piece. My favorite part of this selection was the trumpet soloist who, in muted tones, sounded like a priest intoning the words of mass, while the rest of the band answered with tones that made me think they were saying, “Aaaaaaaa…..meeeeennnnnn.” It was beautiful and clever. The last work was Steel, an energetic and exciting piece with lots of percussion and movement. Dr. Oliver suggested we might want to get our groove on, listening to this melodic song, and assured us the band members certainly would be!
While Steel seemed to be the crowd pleaser, evoking a standing ovation after the stirring conclusion, I enjoyed each piece, for different reasons. As I heard each selection, I’d think, “This one is my favorite”. And then I’d hear the next one and think the same thing! I decided I loved them all. Dr. Oliver was fantastic as the conductor, gifting the audience with his graceful movements and fun commentary, while giving expert direction to his band.
What is amazing to realize is that these young men and women met as a band for the first time last night. They had nine hours of rehearsals, with a director they’ve not worked with previously, before giving a concert. It is a testament to their talents and their ability to learn quickly that in that short amount of time they formed a cohesive and beautifully functioning musical entity. They sounded so wonderful together. It is a life lesson as well. When I offer my own music, knowing who I am and what I am gifted to do, I don’t need to worry about what notes others are playing. I can allow them to do what they do so well. Just like today’s band, we blend harmoniously and offer beautifully, when each gifted individual joins together to create an even greater and more gifted whole.
I let those amazing tones and melodies wash over me, soothing my soul, while at the same time, lifting my energy. I am proud of Dayan for his contribution and more than that, for his courage in stepping up and auditioning for these kinds of things. This young man doesn’t back down from a challenge or bother to dwell in his comfort zone. He gives it his best. And life gives its best back to him. He inspires me. The music this afternoon inspired me. I left refreshed.