BRUNSWICK, Ohio – It’s not everyday that you get the chance to attend the world premiere of a musical composition.
This is exactly what happened on Friday June 4th when ‘A New Beginning’ debuted at Brunswick Middle School, preceded by a documentary on the history of the three buildings in the town of school district. Brunswick which are now integrated into a single state-of-the-art center. school.
It was all the idea of group director Gary Allen. Introducing the video, Allen said that when he heard that the three schools were going to merge into one, he came up with the idea of creating an original piece of music that the eighth-graders could play for the inauguration of the new school in 2020.
He got in touch with composer Jeff Herwig and they discussed the idea. But first, Allen had to find a way to pay for Herwig’s labor. The Brunswick Education Foundation stepped in to provide a grant for the innovative idea.
The grand opening was of course delayed by the pandemic. And even when students could attend, no outside visitors could enter.
Now, with improved COVID-19 numbers and the lifting of restrictions, the show could continue – even if in virtual form.
Although there was no red carpet on Friday, guests were greeted by students who guided them to their seats to view the filmed documentary / concert.
Time and time again, people have exclaimed about the new building, many admitting that they were as eager to see the building as they were to hear the music. Both have received rave reviews.
“It was amazing! Said Lisa Fortuna, who was present with her daughter Kaitlin. “We enjoyed it a lot. It was really A LOT of work to put it all together. But it’s totally worth it!
Sarah Miller said: “The whole experience has been fabulous.”
Allen faced a number of challenges along the way. When he contacted Herwig, he was the eighth grade group principal. At the end of college, he was assigned to the sixth and seventh grade groups.
He immediately began collaborating with the band’s other directors, Scott Little and Michelle Wonk, as well as percussion instructor Brian Bennett. They immediately joined the effort.
Because the audience couldn’t enter the school, Allen came up with the idea of a documentary for a virtual performance. He started by looking for photographs of school buildings. Then he started interviewing people both in schools and in the community. Before he knew it, he said, he had eight hours of video.
Then came the challenge of students learning music without ever being together to rehearse. By the time the composition was finished, the directors had to teach a few students at a time instead of an entire group.
“Our students have never played this music all together,” Allen explained. “Each one played and was recorded separately, then sound engineers Zach Toom and Bill Hare put them all together.”
This revelation sparked astonishment from the public.
Former students, staff and longtime members of the community were interviewed and eight hours was reduced to just over an hour. The finale, of course, was the music, which started with one instrument representing Edwards Middle School, the second instrument representing Visintainer Middle School, and the third representing Willetts Middle School. And then they got mixed up to make some great music.
The concert is online at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=o3TnIDH6tsM.
“A New Beginning” was written to celebrate the past and future of Brunswick Middle School. Mission accomplished.
Read more of the Brunswick Sun.