March is Music In Our Schools Month, a time to celebrate school music programs and the dedicated school music teachers that set the stage for many of the area's great musicians. Magic happens at school concerts; school stages are often the first places students perform and where passion for performance begins.
To celebrate Music In Our Schools Month, we asked ESYO musicians to share their most memorable school concerts.
For ESYO violinist Sonia it is her first concert that is the most memorable. "I was in fourth grade," she said. "I was nervous and scared that I would mess up, but when I got on stage, I did awesome. That's when I realized I loved performing. No matter how much it scared me, no matter how nervous I got, I loved the feeling of being up on the stage with an ensemble, with an audience watching me, and having that excitement and adrenaline rush when performing."
COVID-19 challenged school music programs to think outside the box and find new ways to perform. It was difficult and not ideal, but it did offer some creative and unexpected moments. Lucas, who plays cello in his middle school orchestra recalled, "my most memorable school concert moment was in 2021 when we had to record our school concert because of COVID-19," said Lucas. Unfortunately, a technical glique in the recording kept him off the virtual stage, even though the audience could hear him. He approached the challenges of zoom concerts with humor and laughter, even when it may not have gone the way his orchestra expected. We can all learn from Lucas' perseverance and recognize that we learn the most from difficult situations.
For bass clarinetist Julia, her most memorable concert is connected to her favorite piece. When Julia was a freshman in high school, she heard a senior perform Deepwood by David Bennet. "It is a song that was written relatively recently for the bass clarinet and was the first bass clarinet solo piece published in the United States... I really liked it," said Julia.
Three years later, the encouragement from her older peer inspired Julia to work with her school band director to prepare Deepwood for the NYSSMA Festival. "I took a leap of faith and signed up for NYSSMA to play Deepwood," said Julia. "Now, with the help of my band teacher and my clarinet instructor, I have gotten so confident in the piece that I used it to audition for ESYO and for college," she continued.
Do you remember what it was like standing on stage for the first time? What is your most memorable school concert? Share your school concert experience on social media and tag @EmpireStateYO.