Composer, conductor and college professor Dr. Barry E. Kopetz visited Port Chester Middle School to assist the Select Band in preparation of one of his pieces.
Sharon Slote, Bronxville MS/HS Band Director, notified her Westchester colleagues that Kopetz would be visiting and invited them to attend his clinics. PCMS Band Director Ken Kraut recognized his name immediately as one of his students’ favorite composers and asked if he would come to a 7:30 a.m. rehearsal, before beginning his day at Bronxville..
“Dr. Kopetz responded immediately that he would love to help our students. Even though this all happened last minute, and it was our final rehearsal before our competition trip the next day, there was no way we could pass-up this opportunity,” Kraut said.
“The students were extremely excited, and everyone came early to meet him, before having the musical experience of their young lives, being led in rehearsal by the very person who composed their music.”
According to Kopetz’ performance notes, his piece “Tecumseh,” is a musical portrayal of the life of the great Native American chief of Ohio.” Many of the students studied Tecumseh’s life in their Social Studies classes, and were eager to share what they learned with Dr. Kopetz.
Soloists Mikaela Roca, flute, and Maya Bater, alto saxophone, were tasked with performing emotional sections of the piece, which represented a Native American girl singing, and her people’s love for their land as well as their sorrow for having to leave it.
Kopetz is the director of bands and professor of conducting at Capital University in Columbus, OH. He taught previously at the University of Utah, where he founded the Salt Lake Symphonic Winds.
Kopetz has more than 80 compositions published for various musical groups.
“There’s no doubt that he inspired my students,” Kraut said, “as they went on the following day to earn a ‘Superior’ rating, and ‘Best Overall Concert Band’, largely due to their keen interpretation of ‘Tecumseh.’”