Reaching Musical Heights concert was inspirational
The power of high-quality music education was evident at Reaching Musical Heights, held on Tuesday, February 24, at Severance Hall. This quadrennial concert of student musicians from the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District was a remarkable celebration of our talented and hardworking students, their music teachers, our schools, and our community.
Dress rehearsal and performance took place on the same day, so when school was closed due to frigid early morning temperatures, the planning committee held an emergency meeting with the music directors and district administrators and quickly rearranged the event. Rehearsals were condensed, transportation was minimized, snacks were provided, changes were communicated to parents of all 559 students and the show went on.
Singers from all seven elementary schools lifted their voices and moved in unison to fun choreography. Instrumentalists and singers came together from both of our middle schools in an honors chorus and honors orchestra to perform as they will when they get to high school. Heights High Symphonic Winds played a piece with complicated brass parts. The high school’s A Capella Choir sang a moving version of the early American folk song "Shenandoah," and then student conductors led the next two choral selections.
The high school symphony played a movement from Stravinsky’s The Firebird that featured a bassoon soloist. A recent Heights High graduate, the award-winning gospel singer Geoffrey Golden, returned from Morehouse College to accompany a gospel ensemble on the piano and to sing a solo.
The Jazz Ensemble played at the pre-concert reception, the choral department’s Men’s Barbershoppers sang on stage, and a harpist played in the ticket lobby. A combined choir with pit orchestra opened the show with “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” from Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls.
The event included a pre-concert benefit reception to raise funds to support Reaching Heights Summer Music Camp, Patti-Jackson Music Lesson Scholarships, and other music programming. The concert was funded by the residents of Cuyahoga Country through a Cuyahoga Arts & Culture grant, generous individual donors and family foundations.
A DVD of the event is available from Reaching Heights for $10. Send your request and a check made out to Reaching Heights, to: Reaching Heights, 2843 Washington Blvd., Cleveland Heights 44118. To volunteer, donate, or learn more about Reaching Heights, visit www.reachingheights.org.
Krista Hawthorne is the executive director of Reaching Heights.