Ferndale Schools Orchestra to Play Commissioned Original Piece at May 21 Concert

Ferndale Schools Orchestra to Play Commissioned Original Piece at May 21 Concert

(Lara Mossa, March 12, 2019)

Ferndale, MI  – When the Ferndale Public Schools Orchestra students take the stage May 21st, they will play a piece that no one has ever heard before.

For the first time, the orchestra has commissioned a composer to write an original song.

“I think it is a great opportunity,” said Ben Moy, Ferndale Director of Orchestras. “The students will be getting to perform an original composition that was created with our group in mind. When they perform it at the spring concert, it will be the first time that piece of music is ever played in public. For the students that get to be a part of this, I hope it will give them a different perspective on music and performance.”

Commissioning a song is when a group asks a composer to create a piece specifically for their group to perform, Moy explained, adding that often the composer collaborates with the group and tailors the piece to the specific group as well as creative input.

The commission will cost the orchestra $1,000, which Moy said is considerably less than projects like this usually cost. The composer is donating much of his time and services, and the money is being raised through donations and Orch Support, which is a parent booster group for the Ferndale Public Schools Orchestra.

The unique opportunity came about because Moy’s wife, Allison Alexander went to Coldwater High School with the composer Costas Dafnis. Based out of San Francisco, Dafnis has received commissions for ensembles and organizations including the Michigan State Honors Choir, Ohio Northern University and the Guam Symphony Society among others. His awards include the American Prize in Composition by New Music USA and the National Band Association Young Composer Mentor Project.

While the orchestra has not requested a certain type of music, Moy has asked the composer to keep in mind the strengths of the group, which include a bass player who has qualified for the all-state orchestra the past two years, a strong senior violinist and a talented viola section.

Lucas Langley, 16, of Ferndale, is one of the viola players. A junior at Ferndale High School, this is his second year playing in the symphony orchestra.

“It’s very exciting to know that someone is out there putting many hours into composing a piece just for us, and I’m so thankful for everything that Ferndale High has done to make this happen,” he said. “My classmates and I approach new music the same, but this piece will be a little different. I think we’ll all put more emotion and dedication into performing this.”

The piece will be completed next month, and the orchestra will begin rehearing it in April. The concert will be at 7 p.m., May 21, in the Ferndale High School Auditorium. The song will be owned by the Ferndale Orchestra program to be performed again and made available to other orchestras.

“I’m really hoping for an aggressive sounding piece only because those are the most fun to play,” Langley said.

The Ferndale Public Schools orchestra program includes more than 230 students in grades five through 12. Individuals and businesses interested in donating toward the endeavor should contact Lisa Meesseman, Orch Support Treasurer at lmeesseman@gmail.com. For more information about Costas Dafnis, go to www.costasdafnis.com.

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