I learned only late last week that this Sunday (Feb. 11) at 6 p.m. the annual Young Artist Concert featuring Commencement Bay Music Educators Association middle school honor band students will be held in the Milton Boyd Auditorium at Peninsula High School. Claudia Thompson, fellow Peninsula Schools Education Foundation Board member, sent me a flyer with the notification.
The concert, “Harbor Winds,” will be conducted by Eric Swanson of the Narrows Music Society. Its featured soloist will be Gig Harbor High’s Sean Dickson on tuba. Admission is free; donations are welcome.
I sent off a flurry of emails and arranged photo and interview sessions with our local middle school musicians Monday. My first stop was at GHHS to catch Sean Dickson before he headed off to Tacoma Community College where he is a part-time Running Start student.
Sean said, “Throughout musical history, the tuba has always been placed at the bottom of the sound pyramid. With such a low sound, the tuba rarely gets a chance to shine in a musical group. This placement in orchestras is what gave the tuba the aura it has: the big, clumsy, splatty, kind of funny-looking instrument. People never seemed to see a tuba the same way they view a violin, which has a beautiful sound and pleases the eye. A tuba does not have good looks. But, with the right musician, it can have one of the most beautiful and ear-pleasing sounds in the instrument kingdom. With the right musician, a tuba can be just as beautiful as any instrument in the orchestra and, when the chance is given, can truly shine as its own elegant soloist instrument. Why did I agree to perform as Harbor Wind’s student soloist? I agreed because I can be that musician.”
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All our middle school musicians with Commencement Bay Music Educators Association Honor Band are eighth graders.
Key Peninsula Middle School bass clarinet player Lucas Malley said, “Being chosen for honor band meant a lot for me because it made me feel that I was good at what I do and this made me more confident in my ability to perform in front of others.”
“I’m so proud of the students who were chosen for the COMBMEA Middle School Honor Band!” said Sarah Kaal, Key Peninsula Middle School Director of Bands. “They’re fantastic musicians and it’s so wonderful to see the Key Peninsula being represented in the greater Pierce County area. I am excited for our students who will be performing with Harbor Winds. It’s not often students get to perform with advanced level adult musicians. What a great opportunity for them!”
Harbor Ridge percussionist Tanner Stiefel said, “I’m doing this to further my music career and see firsthand how a musician operates. I hope this experience will give me more insight to what it means to be a professional musician and that I will gain more knowledge in music.”
Classmate Hudson Neil said, “I have always loved music and when the opportunity came for me to play an instrument in middle school band, I was really excited. It has been one of my favorite classes ever since. I play the bassoon because it’s not your usual instrument. I remember listening to different instruments when I was deciding which one I wanted to play and there was just something unique about the bassoon.”
“I play tenor sax because music, of all kinds, has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember,” said Dennis Yefimov. “Saxophone was also an instrument I loved, just the sound and the ways you can play it, let it be jazz, classical or even, the blues. In fifth grade, I decided I wanted to play just like people I heard on radio, TV and even the store. I always admired the smooth melody of a saxophone.”
“I did band because music was a huge part of my life,” said Goodman Middle School trumpet player Jackson Floyd. “It still is. I used to do lots of things to music. I decided I wanted to be a part of music. To make music. Trumpet was a big part of music, so I chose that.”
For Goodman sax player Trevor Hellwich, one of the reasons he decided to do band was because his cousin, who plays in a WSU concert band, played bass clarinet. “Also there was a mysterious saxophone player in a show I watched named Duke Silver. He was really cool and I wanted to be like him,” Hellwich said.
Goodman’s Leah Ruiz said, “When I was in second grade, I moved to Gig Harbor and every year the Goodman Band would come to my school to play for us, then let the fifth graders try the instruments. I knew then that I wanted to be in band and I wanted to play the flute. But when I tried the clarinet I fell in love with it. I’ve been playing it ever since.”
“I have played bassoon for three years and really enjoy it,” Goodman’s Trilby Hellwich said. “I started playing it because it is unique and interesting. I actually had no clue what it looked like when I decided I was going to play it, but it seemed cool and I have always loved playing music.”
“I play flute because I really enjoy making and listening to music and it is a big part of my life,” Goodman’s Kaity Dunn said. “I started playing flute in sixth grade because I really liked the sound of it and I really wanted to be part of a band. I really enjoy music and I hope to keep playing in the future.
Come Sunday and hear these very talented kids make you proud of our school district.
Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at email@example.com.
“Harbor Winds” Young Artist Concert
When: 6 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 11).
Where: Milton Boyd Auditorium at Peninsula High School, 14105 Purdy Drive NW, Gig Harbor.
Featuring: Commencement Bay Music Educators Association middle school honor band students, with tuba soloist Sean Dickson, of Gig Harbor High School.
Conducted by: Eric Swanson of the Narrows Music Society.
Admission: Free; donations are welcome.