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Topic: Yesterday at the Kennedy Center

  1. #1

    Smile Yesterday at the Kennedy Center

    I had the most incredible day of my life yesterday, and I wanted to share it here.

    Lyn McLain founded the DC Youth Orchestra program in 1960, and was director of the program as well as the music director of its senior orchestra until early this year when he announced his retirement. This man is a hero in the DC community, having introduced many thousands of students to the wonders of music and the joy of playing in orchestras and other ensembles. When he announced he was retiring, the community rose up and organized a gala event, culminating in a performance at the Kennedy Center by a huge orchestra consisting of many alumni and some current students of the program.

    I played in the orchestra under McLain for three years as a student. I went to McLain in 1979 when I was 15 and showed him my Symphony no. 1. He graciously allowed a reading, and later a performance. He then helped arrange my participation in the 1980 Children's Festival of Music in Sofia Bulgaria, and even personally chaperoned me in my trip behind the iron curtain. My gratitude toward him knows no bounds. He helped put the sound of the orchestra in my ear, and helped me hear my very first orchestral work, giving me the confidence to continue as a composer to this day.

    I was commissioned to write a short orchestral piece in honor of Maestro McLain for this concert. I was privileged to be in attendance at two of the rehearsals, and met the director for the concert, John McLaughlin Williams. (Of course I may "accidentally" leave out the middle name when telling this story some time )

    It was an incredibly joyful time for me seeing so many of my old friends I hadn't seen in twenty years. There were many hugs and tears, and I met many new friends as well. At a pre-concert reunion picnic on Saturday, many of these people (including myself) were granted a few minutes to talk about McLain's impact on their lives, and the stories were so touching. I have never known a man so beloved by so many people. So many former students telling this gentle soul "I love you." I had the opportunity to present him with a signed score of my work.

    At the concert, we were seated in a side box near the stage along with McLain, and other important members of the program past and present. There were about 1200 audience members by my rough estimation. The concert included Gershwin, Copland, Beethovan, Bach, and my work, and was very well received.

    It was amazing to hear my work played by such a large orchestra. There were 137 players onstage! I was very pleased with the performance of my work, and I was asked to stand and take a bow from the box in front of all those people. My heart was pounding as I expressed thanks to the orchestra, and to Maestros Williams and McLain.

    After this, McLain took the podium, and conducted the orchestra himself for one last time. His beautiful rendition of a Bach chorale brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing man, and what an absolute honor it was to write a work for him. This was a day I will never forget as long as I live.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  2. #2

    Re: Yesterday at the Kennedy Center


    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking us there with you on this evening to always remember.

    infinite bravos

    Randy B.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    North Carolina

    Smile Re: Yesterday at the Kennedy Center


    What a wonderful day that must have been. I know what a thrill it is to hear your music performed and the emothional connections that you describe make it much more meaningful.

    I wish I could have shared some of that with you but distances prohibited that. I have already expressed what I think of your work and it must have been incredible played live by a large orchestra.


    David Mauney

  4. #4

    Re: Yesterday at the Kennedy Center

    Thanks for sharing this, sounds like quite an amazing day; especially to hear your own work played by that many musicians. Congrats.

    and met the director for the concert, John McLaughlin Williams. (Of course I may "accidentally" leave out the middle name when telling this story some time
    this is a rather multi purpose name! if you find yourself telling this story to guitar players, leave off the last name for some oohs.
    If pro is the opposite of con lets look beyond this....the opposite of congress must be progress...

  5. #5

    Re: Yesterday at the Kennedy Center

    Wow, an amazing experience.

    Being commissioned for an arrangement. Hearing your work performed live....Meeting old friends. Being part of a special dedication honoring your mentor!

    This is a memory you'll no doubt cherish forever.

    Congratulations Jamie!

    Thanks for sharing


  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Wilton, NH

    Re: Yesterday at the Kennedy Center

    Congratulations Jamie – sounds like a wonderful show celebrating a wonderful person. And Gershwin, Copland, Beethoven and Bach – not a bad crowd to be associated with

    I’m glad the show went so well. Thanks for sharing this special time with us.
    Trent P. McDonald

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