Chance Email Brings Australian Composer to Work With District 64’s Emerson Concert Band

Teacher's email reaches composer just ahead of Chicago trip

A well-timed email from District 64’s Emerson Middle School band teacher Jamie Hestad to Australian composer and music educator Jodie Blackshaw has resulted in a delightfully unexpected opportunity for students to work personally with her and perform one of her pieces at a Thursday, May 2 concert that luckily overlaps with the composer’s Chicago trip.

“I had emailed Ms. Blackshaw to thank her for her wonderful, innovative compositions and to let her know that my students considered her ‘Whirlwind’ piece their favorite song of the year,” Hestad said.  “I explained that our students have all created ‘homemade’ instruments and that it’s been incredible to see what ideas they were able to brainstorm, such as using a maple syrup bottle for a waterglass chime and a plastic Easter egg rattle,” she added.  

Although Hestad expected only a brief acknowledgement, “it was an amazing coincidence when Blackshaw responded that not only was she delighted to hear that our students enjoyed the piece, but that she was actually going to be here in Chicago on May 2!” she explained.  “She immediately offered to work with our students beforehand, examine their special instruments and cheer them on at the concert,” Hestad added.

Hestad herself studied abroad at Melbourne University in 2007 and became impressed with Australia's promotion of creative thinking in music. 

Blackshaw will participate in a mini-workshop with the Concert Band members at 6:15 p.m. before the program begins at 7:00 p.m. at Emerson Middle School (gym), 8101 N. Cumberland, Niles.  Emerson’s Symphonic Band and Percussion Ensemble also will perform that evening.

The Concert Band includes:  Flute – Jennifer Briglio, Liliana D'Alesio, Emma Nazar, Sara Nelson, Katie Roche, Sidney Simner, Alexandra Szul; Oboe – Sophie Post; Clarinet –Michael Belford, Olivia Davis, Ana Gauder, Andrea Hassman, Haley Lippert, Magdalena Pontikes, Michelle Schmitz, Alana Urquhart, Mark Alvin Milan; Bass Clarinet – Carly Swanson; Alto Saxophone – Joseph Bellisario, Eugene Caporale, August Ebling, George Kuritza, Victoria Pontikes, Jacob Wojcieszak; Tenor Saxophone – Margaret Edsey; Bari Saxophone – Robert Ozon; Trumpet – Maddie Bugai, Grace Gallery, Dylan Harris, Emma Iacovella, Jonah Kim, Annalise Lasky, Ethan LaVaccare, Sarah Myers, Cassandra Soto, Kara Swanson, Patrick Thomas Talbot, Emily Torre; Horn – Katherine Novak; Trombone – Nathan Jareczek, Owen Kopka, Stephen Marino, Mike Roche; Baritone – Tyler Jozwiak, Jake Saul; and, Percussion – Jenna Borrelli, Julia Borrelli, Jack Dombro, Emma Lemke, Owen Mech, and Kelly Tanquary.

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