Seventh and eighth grade band students at Sampson Middle School were given an opportunity this week that most middle school band students never see.
Nationally known composer Michael Oare, who was commissioned to write a piece of music for the middle school, visited Wednesday afternoon, spending more than an hour working with the students on the piece that will be performed in the spring concert.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our students,” SMS band director Vevlyn Lowe expressed.
Students were excited about the opportunity and getting a chance to play a piece of music that was specifically written for Dark Horse nation. According to Lowe, the piece will be published in the fall of 2016 and be available for other bands to purchase and perform. Cleverly named “Night of the Dark Horse,” Lowe said it was a student, Kendall Spell, who came up with the title.
“I am very excited to meet a known composer,” seventh grade student Zachary Lucas said. “It’s also exciting knowing that this piece was composed for our school.”
According to Lowe, most students often think of composers as old, dead people that lived many years ago. One of her goals in writing the grant that allowed for this opportunity, she said, was for the students to meet a real composer and show the students who the composer is as a person, thinker and artist.
Oare, who is a middle school band director in Chesapeake, Va., has been directing music for 25 years. He has more than 30 pieces of music that have been published and is working on more.
Towards the end of last year, Oare said he began working to compose the piece. Lowe and the SMS students provided Oare with the history of the Dark Horse mascot and from that, he began working.
“I had to keep it vague and universal enough, yet personalized, that it would work for Sampson Middle and other schools would be interested,” Oare said. “Mrs. Lowe wanted specific musical aspects, which I followed.”
Wednesday afternoon was the first time all seventh and eighth grade band students were together in one room performing the piece. Lowe said as individual classes, the students have been working on their parts, but was pleased with what came out for the first time together. Oare seemed to be pleased with the performance as well.
“Now, that was good, but can I make a few suggestions,” Oare asked.
After Oare worked with the students on perfecting the piece, he gave them a chance to ask questions, allowing the chance for students to learn the process of writing a piece of music.
“This experience may spark interest in some of our band students and they may consider composing music as a hobby or career,” Lowe said.
This opportunity was made possible through a Love of Learning grant from the Simple Gifts fund. Lowe, along with other band directors from the county, are planning to get Oare back to compose two additional pieces and work with students during a clinic.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.