Final Notes: Seniors reflect on years of CF musical inspiration

With school wrapping up and winding down, the Cedar Falls music programs prepare for and perform their final concerts of the school year.

Orchestra performed for the last time on Tuesday, May 16, the last band concert took place on Monday, May 22, and choir students sang this year’s last notes on Wednesday, May 24. These final concerts have certain traditions attached to them, like awards, senior recognitions and gifts for the directors. Those traditions, as well as the fact that it’s the seniors’ last performance with these groups, makes it a highly emotional concert for some, especially seniors. Regardless, these final concerts are a chance for seniors to reflect on what they’ve been a part of for the last three years.

“Saying goodbye to the music department is definitely the hardest thing; that is something I wish I could have forever,” senior clarinetist and vocalist Alexis Hahn said. “I know that going to college it’s not ending, it’s just transforming, and it may be better than it was here, but this was my foundation, and it was definitely the most important thing to me in high school. I’m very grateful for it, and I don’t want to say excited to move on, but I’m ready.”

Hahn reflected on some of her favorite memories from her high school music experience. “Our last [marching band] performance, we were out on the football field instead of in the Dome because the varsity game was cancelled,” she said. “I was [conducting] the closer [as the drum major], and during the last few measures cutting the band off, turning to the audience, I remember thinking ‘this is one of those moments that I’m always going to remember,’ I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. It was a really cool moment.”

Hahn will be attending the University of Northern Iowa next fall as a member of the clarinet studio, pursuing a degree in music education. She acknowledged some lessons she learned as a part of the music department in high school. “Band is a place where everyone is valued and everyone is important, and I really learned that through being a drum major,” she said. “I also learned that simply showing someone you care goes a really long way. I learned that being a leader is about serving others, not about serving yourself.”

“The orchestra concert was really emotional. I almost cried a few times,” senior violist and vocalist Briar Stiers said. “I had only gotten to be with Ms. Osborne for one year, and I know that I’m going to miss her. It was such a good concert, and we were all so happy to be there. Choir, I think is going to be more emotional because it’s more personal; there’s text and words involved, so you can make it more personal. The music is going to be really incredible and really fun, and I’m just going to miss it so much. There’s so many good people I’ve gotten to know through choir and so many good experiences that I’ve had because of choir. It’s going to be sad to see all of that go. At the same time, I’m really excited to make more memories.”

Stiers recounted some of their best musical moments at Cedar Falls High School. “This year, when we [the chamber orchestra] played the Brandenburg Concerto, I’ve always wanted to play as a soloist with an orchestra, and I finally got to. I got to do it with Alex [Dou, fellow senior violist], and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”

Stiers said they are grateful for the knowledge they gained in music at Cedar Falls and that they will be taking that to Luther College, where they plan to study music education.

“It means a lot to me because every year I have such a hard time saying goodbye to the seniors in band, especially,” senior trombonist and vocalist Jack Dunning said. “It was always cool to be a part of their last concert and now it’s my last concert.”

Dunning’s experience in the music department was very broad, and his memories are many. “Being a soloist with the marching band was cool. Same thing with the jazz band. Being a soloist was an honor, of course,” he said. “All-State was also something cool. I never thought I could make it, but hard work and dedication got me there. I’ve really enjoyed the music program here, all the opportunities, such as playing in the pit for the orchestra, symphony orchestra, pep band, all those ensembles have been really cool.” Dunning will be furthering his musical studies at UNI next fall, pursuing a degree in music education.
“It’s really sad to be leaving,” senior saxophonist and vocalist Katherine Campbell said. “I love band and choir, but I think they’ve taught me so much. I’m ready to explore more and bring CF to other places and show everyone that we have the best music program ever. Obviously, I’m sad, but I have siblings coming into the music program, and my time here is done.”

The music department taught Campbell many valuable lessons, to her own admission. “CF music taught me a lot on how to work with other people, how to practice correctly, how to get further in my music career and how to enjoy what I’m doing while also challenging myself to play more difficult music.” Campbell will be pursuing a degree in classical saxophone performance at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

“It’s fun to look at myself, how much I’ve gotten better, how much I’ve grown as a musician. In seventh grade, I picked up the trumpet, and it sounded like an elephant,” senior trumpeter and vocalist Owen Schupbach said. “Now I can actually manage to piece together a song.”

Schupbach had many emotional connections with the high school ensembles. “Band and choir are close to the heart and very emotional,” he said. “Choir I’ve only done two years of, but it’s really special to sing with friends. You’ve been with those friends for four, five, six, seven years, and it’s a good experience.” Schupbach will be continuing his musical journey at Luther College, studying music education.

While the seniors look beyond Cedar Falls, others say goodbye to them and look to the future of the high school music department. Orchestra director Ann Osborne spoke about worries that she had coming into the year and her relationship with this year’s senior class.

“When you have an orchestra teacher that you like, and they leave and you’re about to be a senior, that can be kind of hard for people. I was a little anxious about that and getting to know the seniors and developing relationships,” she said. “It’s been a process, but I would say we’ve all become pretty close, and I wanted to show my appreciation for them at the concert, so I spoke about each senior a little bit and gave all seniors a flower. I think they’ll always have a place in my heart since they were my first group of seniors I had at CF.”

“One of the things we do at our final concert is we recognize our seniors for their accomplishments. I have a unique perspective as I prepare all the information and look at everyone’s record,” said wind symphony director Gerald Ramsey. “That’s a chance for me to reflect on the stuff that everybody has done. It’s really kind of cool ahead of time to be looking at all those specifics that each one of those seniors has done.”

“The senior class has been an excellent group of musicians to work with over the past three years,” symphonic band director Kyle Engelhardt said. “They’ve been shown tremendous growth since their sophomore year, and they’ve turned into some of our strongest leaders. They’ve also left us in pretty good shape by being good role models and setting the stage for the sophomores and juniors to step up and fill those leadership positions once the seniors graduate. I think one of the things that’s cool about the senior class is many of them are going to continue performing, with band, choir or orchestra, and continue to share their love of music with others throughout the rest of their lives.”

Engelhardt recognized the emotion of the final concert, but told seniors to look at it as new beginning rather than as the end of an era. “For the seniors, it’s their last high school performance but it’s not their last performance. I hope that as they go to college they continue to play for fun or for their degree, and I also hope that their experience in high school with a good positive experience and that they become consumers of music and patrons of the arts.”

“I really love the seniors this year. They’ve given me so much guidance and help toward becoming a great musician,” sophomore percussionist Jeremy Marchesani said. “They’ve influenced me so much, and they’ve been a big impact on my life. They’ve been like family to me, whether musically or socially. They’ve all connected to me in ways that only true friends and partners could do. I’ll miss them greatly, and there’ll never be another group like them.”

“We’re losing a lot of good leaders next year, and the sophomores and juniors have big shoes to fill,” sophomore trumpeter and vocalist Rachel Kuehner said.

Sophomore horn player and vocalist Jamie Knox echoed her sentiment. “I look up to the seniors. I like a lot of them, and I made a lot of friends next year. I’m sad that they’re leaving,” she said.

“The spring concert is a very special one. I get to recognize a group of kids who have given part of their school life to further, in my case, the choir program, but in all of our cases, the music program,” choir director Eliott Kranz said. “Whether they have been in choir for three years, one year or one semester, I still think it’s important that they be recognized for their accomplishments. This senior class has been a group of great leaders, both musically and as people. There are so many talented musicians who excel in many ensembles and on many instruments, but the thing that I’ll miss most about this class is that they’re good people.”

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.