The Newtown High School wind ensemble, orchestra, and choruses will perform the world premiere of Samuel R. Hazo’s Glorificare on Wednesday, May 22, at 7 pm, for all residents who wish to attend. The performance will be in the auditorium at Newtown High School, 12 Berkshire Road.
The time and space at NHS was originally set aside for the NHS orchestra’s spring concert, and that time will now include the presentation of a special memorial celebrating the lives and spirits of the people lost at Sandy Hook School on 12/14. The entire NHS music department, along with teachers from across the district, community musicians, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, and the Hartford Voce Singers will perform Mr Hazo’s Glorificare (“glor-i-fi-carr-aye,” loosely translated from Spanish for “praise” or “to glorify”).
NHS Band Director Kurt Eckhardt said he has been familiar with Mr Hazo’s music for awhile, but NHS music students discovered it in December after learning to play the composer’s Ride.
In his years as a music educator, Mr Eckhardt said he has never seen students connect with music more than they have with Mr Hazo’s work.
Following the events of 12/14, Mr Eckhardt said a number of students asked whether something could be done musically to help in the healing process.
“So then we started thinking about how we should do this,” said Mr Eckhardt.
Commemorative music pieces have been written in the past for other school tragedies. Unbeknownst to Mr Eckhardt at the time, Mr Hazo had written a piece for Virginia Tech following the tragic day in 2007.
One of Mr Eckhardt’s students had been in the Connecticut All-State Band when Mr Hazo directed it in 2010, so Mr Eckhardt reached out to Mr Hazo.
“He could not have been more gracious, more sensitive, more supportive,” Mr Eckhardt said. “He immediately said he would be honored to do such a thing, and he didn’t want to be paid.”
The NHS musicians could not be more thrilled, Mr Eckhardt said. The orchestra, band, and chorus students are fully engaged while practicing Glorificare.
As a music educator, Mr Eckhardt said he always strives to have students relate to the music they are learning in an expressive way.
Newtown’s Director of Music Michelle Hiscavich said having the students practice for Glorificare has done exactly what Mr Eckhardt set out to do.
“I would hope that as many people in our community can come and share with us as much as possible,” said Mr Eckhardt, “because of the stature of this composer, what he wrote, and what it means to our kids.”
Mr Eckhardt also expects the May 22 performance of Glorificare will be an experience for all Newtown teachers.
When writing Glorificare Mr Hazo also added in aspects of music that reflects a personal connection to Sandy Hook School. Each year when the Sandy Hook School chorus presents its winter concert, the song Light the Candles is performed, and Mr Hazo worked that song into his piece.
“He has told me at least three or four times that, ‘This is the best thing I have ever written,’” said Mr Eckhardt. “That’s a lot coming from the body of work that he has done.”
According to Mr Hazo’s website, www.samuelrhazo.com, Mr Hazo became the first composer in history to be awarded the winner of both composition contests sponsored by the National Band Association. He has composed for the professional, university and public school levels in addition to writing original scores for television, radio, and the stage. His original symphonic compositions include performances with actors Brooke Shields, James Earl Jones, David Conrad, and Richard Kiley. He has also written symphonic arrangements for three-time Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams.
According to Mr Eckhardt, the upcoming performance of Glorificare is the only memorial composition to be requested by members of the Newtown Public Schools district.
“We hope you will share this evening with us as the orchestra performs its Spring Concert and members of our entire music department present this special tribute,” Mr Eckhardt wrote in an explanation of the May 22 event.