A night to remember: senior band soloists


Guest Contributor

This piece was submitted by Sam Baker (10, J&C).

On March 5, 2019 at 7 p.m. in the Youth Performing Arts School (YPAS) auditorium, the Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, and Chamber kicked off their spring concert.

Friends and colleagues of Jeremiah Potter (YPAS, 12)  ran onto the stage with smiles, smothering him in gifts, balloons and flowers following his saxophone solo.

“I knew that it at always been the tradition at YPAS to show thanks for the seniors,” Potter said. “But when it happens to you, it’s as if you weren’t expecting it. It’s unreal because I have watched three senior classes be congratulated before me and to think that now I am one of those seniors doesn’t seem possible.”

Potter said he loved every bit of that moment and would keep it with him throughout his musical career. Following the Chamber’s performance of Fantasia for Alto Saxophone, the audience met Potter and his accompaniment with a standing ovation.

The concert began with a piece, Concerto for Trumpet Mvmt. I featuring trumpet soloist, Nicholas Rectkenwald (YPAS, 12) and string bass soloist, Cameron Gooden (YPAS, 12). This piece, with YPAS Band Director, Curtis Essig, as conductor, contains a flute feature, and accompaniment from battery percussion.

“I have taught Cameron and Nick for the past four years,” Essig said. “To see two musically passionate and gifted students, who took completely different paths to musical success, perform together tonight reminded me exactly why I chose to teach at YPAS. At this school, we look for the potential for growth in our applicants. Nick and Cameron both demonstrated this potential to our selections committee as eighth graders.”

Essig explained that though both students clearly had potential, he never knew they would rise to the level they showed in the concert’s opening performance. He also described the YPAS Chamber class as an opportunity for students to participate in a more advanced, real-world, and student-run form of collaboration. Essig believed that Cameron, who was the only string in the chamber group, and Nick rose to the challenge of  the chamber class with

the necessary maturity and determination to make YPAS Chamber what it should be.

The Symphonic Band performed the last piece of the night, An American Elegy, which was in memory of those who lost their lives in and survived the school shooting at Columbine High School. YPAS Percussion Director, Jason Gregory chose to conduct the Symphonic Band on this particular piece for its historical significance and its percussion heaviness.

“We have three percussion soloists in this piece, and there is no doubt they will do everything possible to bring forth the necessary emotion,” predicted Gregory. “Every one of the musicians that will perform this piece understands for whom they are playing and their sound should be a very fitting ending to our concert.”  

The percussion soloists for the piece were Aaron Moeller (YPAS, 10) on xylophone, Kyle Roemer (YPAS, 11) on auxiliary, and Ford Smith  (YPAS, 12) on timpani. Following the performance, Roemer emphasized what he felt was a flawless solo by Moeller on xylophone.

“To play your part in the absence of accompaniment is one of the most difficult tasks a musician can be handed,” claimed Roemer. “Then, when you stack on top of that the pressure to play well on such an emotional piece, it is very easy to make a mistake.” Roamer described Moeller’s xylophone solo as a “clutch and flawless performance made by just a sophomore.” He explained that Moeller’s performance was just one of the Symphonic Band’s many successes in the final piece.

Ford Smith walked down the steps on the side of the stage following his timpani solo. As he approached the front row of seats, his mother rose from the audience and handed him a bouquet of flowers and met him with a hug. “It felt so good to be congratulated by those who have supported me the whole way,” Smith said.  “But perhaps most of all, I’m thankful for the opportunity tonight’s concert gave me to perform beside so many other unbelievably determined musicians of the senior class who have grown beside me for the past four years at YPAS.”

Smith insisted that the concert couldn’t have been a more powerful demonstration of how far the seniors of 2019 had come since they first opened the band room doors of YPAS.