Led by conductor Philip Gregory, band director with Rocky Fork Middle School in Smyrna, 110 middle school students performed several pieces for parents, siblings, friends and other family members.
“The teachers who are in these schools and in the Wilson County district are to be commended because there are some very, very talented musicians here,” Gregory said. “I consider it an honor to be able to come and work with their very best. These teachers are working so hard over here, and you’re to be commended, teachers.”
He said some of the students auditioned for placement in the band, while others were chosen to be a part of it.
The students began work Thursday night, worked all day Friday and Saturday morning. Their performance started Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Lebanon High School auditorium.
Gregory said he was pleased with the performance.
“I knew they would do a great job,” he said. “And they did not disappoint.”
Local conductor and musical composer Rick DeJonge led 100 high school students to tunes, along with video and still photos. He even composed a commissioned song, “War and Warriors,” for the students to play. It was the world premiere of the song, which was played along with silent video crafted from the current hit movie, “Dunkirk.” The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture, among other nominations.
DeJonge said he really appreciated “how attentive [the students] were. Every time we need something to correct or to learn, they picked up really quick, and they remembered it the next time we did it. Their ability to learn and grasp things on a really high level really came through.”
Like Gregory, DeJonge said the teachers deserve the credit.
“These students don’t get to this level by themselves,” DeJonge said. “There’s definitely some great education going on.”
In addition to playing music, the high school students played along with still frames from the movie, “Pirates of the Caribbean,” as well as silent movies that featured Charlie Chaplin and King Kong. They were also honored for their ability to play the world premiere of “War and Warriors,” the commissioned peace written by DeJonge for the students.
For the “Pirates” song, the students played, and someone changed the photos. For the others, DeJonge managed the film, according to the music, because he said it had to be exact and go along with the film.
He said in a great film, the audience doesn’t hear the music.
“When music is done great, you don’t even notice that it’s there, because you’re feeling it with the movie,” DeJonge said. “If they’re hearing the music, it’s usually because it’s some bad notes or something is being played wrong or whatever. Then, you’re not enjoying the movie.”