March 24, 2017 -- How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Just ask the North Shore Middle School Symphonic band.
This past Wednesday evening, the ensemble of 12, 13, and 14 year olds performed before a nearly packed auditorium at Carnegie Hall, on a stage that has been graced by the likes of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and the New York Philharmonic.
Undaunted by the majesty and history of the venue, the 7th and 8th graders strode out onto the stage following a performance by a group of Connecticut high schoolers, and played masterfully, with the famously wonderful acoustics of the hall doing justice to their performance.
Conducted by Middle School Band Director Eric Mordhorst, the band had been preparing since September for the showcase of ensembles that also featured four high school bands.
They opened with Patrick Roszell's Drive!, and then following David Holsinger's On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss and Ed Kiefer's The Anguish of Nosferatu, concluded with John Philip Sousa's classic march, The Liberty Bell.
Mr. Mordhorst is no stranger to the storied concert hall having conducted his 7th and 8th grade band there in 2014, and in the more distant past, performing as a musician in instrumental and choral ensembles.
While the performance at Carnegie Hall was no doubt a special event that the young musicians will likely remember for the rest of their lives, it is the experience of being a part of an ensemble working together to achieve something great that is perhaps the most enduring lesson of the band experience, Mr. Mordhorst explained in a blurb that appeared in the concert program.
Through participation in the Middle School Symphonic Band, he wrote, "students experience the value of excellence in performance, a strong work ethic, and a sense of community. The band is a family. . . ."
"The students performing as part of this ensemble this evening," he continued, "are the embodiment of the centuries old tradition of creating art through music, and its connections to history and culture. They are not only hardworking and talented musicians, but wonderful, caring, empathetic young people serving as representatives of North Shore Middle School."
The Band and their teachers made a day out of their trip to the City, arriving at around 1 pm to rehearse, and then ventured off to Buffalo Wild Wings for an afternoon meal before their 7 pm performance. Hundreds of tickets were sold to North Shore families and friends, and teaching faculty and administrators were also on hand to take in the experience.
Before the final piece, Mr. Mordhorst spoke briefly to the audience, and thanked the school district, parents and his family for their support - but mostly he focused his remarks on his students. "You are the ones who make every single day a joy," he said, "with your musicianship, your hardwork, your empathy and your caring."
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice - and of course, dedicated and supportive teachers.
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