Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Guest Commentary: Glenn Williams (DGS Fine Arts Chairperson)

With his permission, I am posting to our DGN Tour Blog an entry that Glenn Williams wrote earlier this morning on the DGS Tour Blog.  I have long admired Mr. Williams ability to capture feelings, thoughts and emotions through the written word.  I hope DGN fans will enjoy this captivating read:

I now have the opportunity to recapitulate briefly about an experience I'm not sure I comprehend the depth and breadth of yet.  As the daylight begins to gradually illuminate the sky, I'll take these moments to share what I've been able to wrap my brain around after an amazingly comfortable evening of rest on these deluxe coach bus seats.

I'm so proud of our current students for how they played as artists on this tour, and, for how the lived out their roles as ambassadors to our school and community.  Numerous tour guides, bus drivers and wait staff sought me out on this tour to tell me how exceptionally behaved are our students.  Professors at Ithaca College remarked on their engagement as while listening and while rehearsing.  Everyone was on time for every aspect of the tour without exception.  I know that thinking about traveling with 350 students can make some people cringe, but this was literally a joyful experience because of how our students deported themselves during the tour.

The collaborative nature of this tour was a massive public display of a core belief of our instrumental music team - we are able to achieve far more corporately than we can individually.  Sharing this experience with the students and staff from across town created a sense of excitement and purpose with every activity, but especially with the music making.

I'd be remiss at this point if I didn't fully acknowledge the vision for group travel cast by my colleague, Brayer Teague.  Even though the nature of this trip was highly collaborative, a tour still has to have a pont-person.  As a tour coordinator, Mr. Teague is unrivaled.  His grace and ability to plan well under pressure is unmatched.  We thank our crosstown colleagues for sharing this experience with us, but we send a special note of gratitude on behalf of all of our students to Mr. Teague for his imprint on this experience.

Being able to share the stage with DGS alums Lauren Wood and Ian Williams was humbling and gratifying.  Hearing them perform and where they are as artists and people was both musically and personally enriching.  Seeing them interact with our current students illuminates a longitudinal connectivity that is special in the music industry.  We are so proud of Ian and Lauren as people and as artists.

For me personally, I was able to reconnect with several former students, and, with former colleagues.  A trombone section mate of mine from the 1984 Walt Disney World All-American College Marching Band is currently an archival librarian at Carnegie Hall.  I got to spend about 45 minutes with Rob as he told me about all the cool projects his is working on to preserve the history of this iconic American performance venue.  Even after 30 years, our connection was strong because of the music making experience we shared one summer.

The sonic experience playing on the stage at Carnegie was indescribable.  As a performer, I heard things with a clarity I've not experience previously, which allowed me to listen and lock in with the artists around me.  Conducting on the stage was pure elation.  The perspective looking out and upward was humbling, the look of the faces of the student musicians was inspiring.  Walking around the hall, seeing the posters and pictures from the history of the hall is both humbling and daunting.  The artists that have played in the same I hold in very high regard, almost in an untouchable category.   Having a shared experience with those artists on the historical performance continuum is extremely humbling and a tremendous honor.

Thanks to every family that contributed to this tour, and, for sharing your students with us and for preparing them to be functional young adults.  Special shout-out to our chaperone team for "putting on a happy face" through all the changes during the course of the tour, and, for shepherding our students so well. Personally, it was great to get to know these amazing people and parents on a deeper level through the tour experience.  Finally, we thank our district, school and community for affirming what group travel brings to students by supporting this experience.  We are fortunate to live and work in a learning community that values the complex nature of what an arts education provides for students.