Heights IMD and alumni celebrate 100 years

Heights musicians perform at Severance Hall. [photo by Carl Jenks]

On Saturday, Feb. 25, the Cleveland Heights High School Instrumental Music Department (IMD) will celebrate a century of instrumental music at the school.

The evening concert will feature performances by current student ensembles and, on several pieces, alumni will be invited to dust off their instruments and play along. Former band and orchestra directors will also be invited to conduct. The concert will be held in the Heights High auditorium. Community members are encouraged to join the celebration as well.

Current music directors Daniel Heim and Nicholas Marzuola have selected several works for alumni to play on, including Bizet’s “Farandole” from L’Arlésienne Suite No.2, and Heights High’s Alma Mater. Prior to the concert, there will be a brief rehearsal that alumni can attend.

Selections played by student ensembles will include Alfred Reed’s El Camino Real, Holst’s Second Suite in F, and Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik.

The IMD was established in the 1921–22 school year, but celebrations of its centennial milestone were delayed until this year due to COVID-19 precautions.

The IMD has a storied history of excellence in instrumental music, with many illustrious alumni, such as world-renowned cellist Alicia Weilerstein (class of 1999) and violinist Diana Cohen (class of 1997).

Superbowl champion Jason Kelce (class of 2006) is another notable IMD alumnus who has spoken often in interviews about his memorable experiences playing in Heights High's Symphonic and Jazz bands.

While excellence in music is always a goal of the Heights High IMD, inclusivity is a priority, too. As a public institution, the school's mission is to serve the needs of all students and to offer diverse educational opportunities.

To do so, the high school has an ensemble for everyone, from beginning players to members of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra. Advanced players audition to play in the Heights High Symphony, Symphonic Winds, Jazz Band, and Jazz Combos. For less advanced players, there are non-audition ensembles: Concert Orchestra, Symphonic Band, and Concert Band. 

Founded in 1932, the Heights Band and Orchestra Parent Organization (BOPO) supports the school's mission by fundraising to subsidize student music tours, private lessons, access to musical instruments, and other needs, so that all Heights High students are able to fully participate in the school's instrumental music programs.

Alumni and community members who would like more information about the Feb. 25 event, including times and locations for the rehearsal and concert, should visit the BOPO website, www.heightsbopo.org. Public domain music scores will be made available as well. 

Alumni who are unable to attend the concert, but would like to support IMD programs and students, are encouraged to donate to Heights BOPO in honor of the centennial celebrations. Donations can be made through the BOPO website.

Eve McPherson

Eve McPherson is the Heights BOPO co-president, and associate professor of music at Kent State Trumbull. As a student, she played violin in the orchestra under Robert Bergantino and Vincent Danner.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 10:52 AM, 01.31.2023