Sisters Bonnie and Justine Campbell are gaining music and life skills in the symphony.
Photo by Mike Salmon.
Springfield In the middle of the West Springfield High School 50th Anniversary Concert,
the band hammered out the world premiere performance of “It’s Just a Phase,” by Anthony O’Toole, that was written to commemorate the anniversary event. It was a multi-faceted piece with a lively intro, and a steady progressive beat that rolls along, getting bolder with interjections from the xylophone and cow bell.
“This piece has been a challenge for sure, it takes us out of our comfort zone,” said conductor Eric Hoang, the school’s director of bands that teaches the symphonic, concert, jazz and marching bands at West Springfield. In the description that was on the pamphlet, phrases were used like “embody musically the rambunctiousness of youth,” and “abundantly energetic.” The song complemented an evening dotted with guest stars from West Springfield’s yesteryears, parents, and clarinet player Cameron Harper who is recognized on the state level for his woodwind skills. He is heading to Temple University next year.
“He has grown a tremendous amount,” Hoang said, introducing Harper to the audience.
The next song was conducted by Michael Bellinger, the former West
Springfield Band Director from 1993-1997, then a saxophone quartet that student Julien Berger thought up while in bed one night, the symphonic suite from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and finally El Camino Real.
Sisters Bonnie and Justine Campbell were on clarinet while parents Bob and Heike watched from the audience. Being in the string symphony “taught our daughters about teamwork and being part of something bigger,” Bob Campbell said. “It helps set them up for success later on,” he added.
Chris Kincaid agreed, as he went in to watch with some friends who had children in the symphony. “It rounds out your secondary education to take music, connects art, math and history,” he said.
Don Wogaman, who has spent much time fundraising for the string symphony, was supportive of all the band’s achievements. “This is a great bunch of kids,” he said.
O’Toole, who wrote “It’s Just a Phase,” has a master’s degree from George Mason University and has written music for well-known bands such as “The President’s Own,” U.S. Marine Band, the Kansas State University Wind Ensemble and the Singapore Wind Symphony.
Jessica Laudie, 16, plays the flute, and noted the layers in the new song. “The meter, it changed a lot which made it hard, and that made it special,” she said.