Welcome back from the land of San Antonio! Each year in February (it's always the week of Valentine's. Why is that?), every music teacher K-college (music, band, choir, and orchestra) descends upon the San Antonio Convention Center and Riverwalk for a four day conference called the Texas Music Educators Convention (TMEA). It is a whirlwind few days filled with classes, lectures, and some spectacular performances. One performance in particular, caught my attention and made me remember what music can be. It may seem that I'm a bit prejudiced in my opinion, seeing as I am a graduate of the school, but the Stephen F. Austin State University's performance on Thursday was spectacular (and everyone else who saw it agreed). What's more, every single musician in the ensemble was a music education major! Not only is SFA turning out some of the best music teacher's in the state, the quality of musicianship is phenomenal.
Two pieces in particular grabbed ahold of me in a way that music hasn't done in a long time. Being a middle school band director, I have become a bit jaded in the music selections that I work with. They are wonderful pieces to be sure, but middle school pieces none-the-less. These two pieces reminded me of why I teach middle school, and the musicians that I am helping to create.
The first piece is called "The Frozen Cathedral" by John Mackey. It is a 13 minute piece, and is exactly what the title says. Being in the auditorium, with the music surrounding me on all sides, I could close my eyes and see myself walking through that ice-covered cathedral. The second piece, literally brought tears to my eyes. "Gone" by Scott McAllister deals with the horrific accident that ended McAllister's playing career, and the emotions that he dealt with in coming to terms with this life changing event. It is one of the most hauntingly beautiful pieces I have ever heard. Below I have shared links to performances of the two pieces. I invite you to listen, and hope they move you even half as much as they did me. Enjoy.
"The Frozen Cathedral" by John Mackey
"Gone" by Scott McAllister