By Leslie Green
The Ohio University Wind Ensemble was one of two university groups in the nation selected to the perform this week at the World Projects Third Annual Band and Orchestra Festival at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Leslie Green, a sophomore music therapy major and percussionist in the ensemble, wrote this first-person account of the momentous experience.
Our buses pulled away from campus early Friday morning, headed toward our first stop on the trip to D.C. -- Glen Oak High School in Canton, Ohio. I was amazed at their music facilities! We performed for their music students and faculty, who gave us great applause. The band provided us with lunch and was so congratulatory and supportive of our performance and especially our invitation to play at Kennedy Center. Unfortunately, we couldn't stay long because we were headed to our next stop -- Howland High School in Warren, Ohio.
Howland High was great. We didn't realize until we arrived that not only were we performing, but it was their band concert, and we had the chance to listen to their performance. Nancy Moore, the band director at Howland is an Ohio alumna whom we invited to conduct "Molly on the Shore," during our performance there. I felt the students really made a connection with the university by realizing their director studied here and seeing her conduct our ensemble. Afterwards, many of the Howland students complimented our performance and express how much they enjoyed the concert.
The band boosters cooked an amazing dinner for us -- chicken, pasta, salad, green beans, rolls, lemonade, coffee and even birthday cake! It was actually the best meal I've had in awhile. That night, the band stayed with Howland families. Two other students and I stayed with a wonderful family. The mother picked us up from Howland and took us out for pizza and paid for it -- a very nice treat considering we are college students. At their home, we were so comfortable and welcomed. In the morning, she cooked us a huge breakfast, and the whole family wished us good luck as we were on our way to D.C.
After unloading the buses and settling in, everyone spent Sunday wandering around D.C., eating vendor hotdogs, taking pictures of themselves squishing the Washington Monument between their fingers, visiting the memorials and other sites and riding the metro -- which is surprisingly a lot of fun!
In the evening we attended a banquet sponsored by the Ohio University Alumni Association. It was an amazing meal and opportunity to meet alumni. The Singing Men of Ohio serenaded us and were amazing -- as usual. It was so wonderful to see the support that alumni have for current students. They spent so much time and effort making sure we have a Bobcat home no matter where we are and that we are supported in our student endeavors.
Monday morning we were given time to finish our last bit of sightseeing before it was off to the Kennedy Center for our evening performance. It was enormous and extravagant, to say the least. Walking in to the foyer made you stand up a little bit taller, and being around such elegance and professionalism made us want to perform at the level of the building.
When we entered the performance hall for our sound check in the afternoon, it was breathtaking. A huge pipe organ stood behind the stage, and the hall had three balconies with seats that surrounded the stage. Huge chandeliers hung perfectly from the ceiling and had such a richness about them. The music echoed beautifully throughout the hall. It gave us chills!
The hall was full of history -- and the Ohio University Wind Ensemble was about to become part of it.
I was anxious for the performance, and I wasn't the only one with butterflies in my stomach. We all wanted this to be our best performance. Those butterflies must have done something because it was our best performance of all of those pieces yet. Everyone was so focused and had the same "I want this to be amazing" mindset that just clicked, connected and worked together.
We all let out a sigh of happiness and relief when we released our last chord in the hall. The sound rang for seconds afterward and the crowd was on its feet cheering.
It's truly amazing what you can accomplish when you have a group of students with the same focus and goal in mind and the right teachers to guide and lead you there. I know I'll never forget being on that stage and performing with my fellow friends and student. I feel so lucky to be at such a great school with professors who provide these opportunities for their students to grow and learn. I know this is an experience that I will never forget.