‘This is ours’

Wright State's School of Fine and Performing Arts hosts unique festival where judges become instructors

The Wright State University School of Fine and Performing Arts welcomed concert bands, string orchestras and choir ensembles from 12 Ohio high schools and middle schools at the second annual Silver Melted Into Sound, which is designed to promote the music of underrepresented composers.

The scholastic performances and accompanying music clinics were held throughout the Creative Arts Center on May 5.

“I don’t think anybody’s doing a festival quite like this one,” said Bill Jobert, senior lecturer in bassoon and coordinator of music education in the School of Fine and Performing Arts in the College of Liberal Arts. “This is ours. This is our festival.”

In addition to performing a piece by a traditional composer, each participating group performed music by an underrepresented composer, which is a person of color, a woman or a marginalized gender identity.

“I conducted Christina Huss’ ‘Brace for Impact,’” said Michaela Copeland, who instructs middle school students at Greenville Middle School and graduated from Wright State with a bachelor’s degree in music education on April 29. “It’s crazy because I used to be the person playing on this stage, and now I’m conducting.”

The music performances were judged not for competition points but for comments. After performing, each group participated in a 30-minute clinic with one of the festival’s adjudicators and then meet with guest composer Sonia Morales-Matos, a Puerto Rican composer, performer and educator.

“This is such a life-changing experience for many of them,” said Morales-Matos. “Many of them will make this school their choice when they are ready to go to college.”

The scholastic groups also took walking tours of the Dayton Campus.

Jobert said Paul Laurence Dunbar, an American poet, novelist and short story writer, was also underrepresented. Jobert named the Silver Melted Into Sound festival after a line in Dunbar’s poem “To a Lady Playing the Harp.”

Participants also produced an original composition inspired by Dunbar’s works. The winning composition will be performed by Wright State musicians next academic year.

“Music educators are looking for a different experience for their students,” Jobert said. “We’re glad to provide that.”

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