What an amazing and special concert this evening, to finish out the school year, and to complete my grandson Dayan’s seven years in band. The 34th Annual Four State Honor Band Concert was held in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, in Pittsburg, Kansas. Two hundred high school musicians, selected from across the four state region of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, met today for the first time to prepare for tonight’s concert.
This event, coordinated by Dr. Craig Fuchs, Professor of Music and Director of the Honors College at Pittsburg State University, showcases the talents of young, promising musicians. This evening the PSU Wind Ensemble began the evening with Dr. Fuchs conducting. Their final number, Finale from Symphony No. 1, brought the audience to their feet in appreciation. Dayan told me after the concert that this was Dr. Fuchs’ final performance at Pitt State, which explained his tearful thank you’s and the emotion rich performance that included alumni joining in, playing above us in the balcony.
The high school performers were divided into two bands. The first group played brilliantly, under the direction of Dr. Curran Prendergast. I was impressed to find out that the concerts tonight featured guest conductors who are also composers.
Dayan performed with the final group. Their band was directed by Randall Standridge, who is a full time composer and marching band editor for Grand Mesa Music Publishers. Of the five musical pieces performed by this band, three of them were composed by Standridge.
And while all three bands gave outstanding performances, of course this one, with my grandson playing the tuba, wowed me the most. From the opening notes of their first number, Galop, these young musicians were bold, confident and beautifully competent. It is astonishing to me, that these teens give such incredible performances after a few hours of rehearsing together. It speaks of their musical abilities and the guidance of their band teachers that they can each offer their unique gift so absolutely and create such soulful and robust music together.
These performances never fail to move me to tears. Tonight, I was especially moved, watching my grandson on the back row, his dark head bent over his tuba as he skillfully played, and knowing this was his last concert as a high schooler.
As he entered 6th grade, this boy who had never played a musical instrument tried out for band, on five different instruments. He was asked to play the tuba, because he could move air through it well, and he had the strength to carry it. This was so characteristic of my grandson, who has always been courageous and never cared to dwell within a comfort zone, to go after something new that interested him.
He has carried that attitude of going after things throughout his high school years. As a musician, Dayan has auditioned for numerous honor bands and ensembles and competed across the state. It has been my great pleasure to attend his many marching band performances and concerts over the years, watching as he has been recognized for his hard work and determination.
Tonight’s beautiful concert was a shining achievement after years of dedication, practicing his music. As he goes to University of Missouri in Columbia this fall, he leaves prepared by his time in band to offer his music to the world, both literally and figuratively. Dayan has learned to focus on what he has to offer, and to allow others to give their best as well. The lessons he has learned playing a musical instrument will carry him well into adulthood, where he will continue to live beyond his comfort zone, and continue to present his gifts to the world.
I am so proud of this young man. This fall Dayan auditions for a position in MU’s concert band. Columbia isn’t so far away. I look forward to attending more concerts.
Listen to Ruckus, composed and conducted by Randall Standridge….and what about those tubas!! Loved this lively piece.