Young Musicians Taking The Trip Of A Lifetime (Don Ward)

By: Don Ward
By: Don Ward

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?


Dozens of young musicians from here are about to take the stage - one of the most famous stages in the world. 

My friend Richard says conducting at Carnegie Hall is one of the most incredible moments he's ever had.

Richard Kusk has had a lot of incredible moments.  He's been a music teacher, a musical mentor to thousands of kids in a career that spans more than four decades.  I've known him since 1980 when he was the band director at Doherty High School.  He won a State Championship with the Doherty Marching Band in 1982. He took that same band to the National Championship in 1983 and finished 5th!  He later moved on to Coronado High School where his musical groups continued to win awards and honors every year.  He still teaches there part time.

For several years now he's also had a place on the podium for the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony.  It is with that group that he's about to take dozens of kids on the performance trip of a lifetime. 

The Pikes Peak Winds is one of several ensembles that make up the Youth Symphony.  Richard is their conductor.  47 kids play brass, woodwind or percussion in the PPW.  They audition to get in, and then they re-audition every year to stay in.  These are the best of the best from our region, 8th graders to freshmen in college, from about 20 different schools.  All of that tells all of us that they're pretty good.

So does this.  More than a year ago they submitted a recording of their work to be considered for this performance opportunity.  They were selected...they got the gig!  The kids have been working hard, rehearsing every week.  Their repertoire includes music by Gustav Holst, James Barnes, Leroy Anderson and others. 

This Sunday, February 21st, you can hear the Pikes Peak Winds at Palmer High School at 3pm.  It's free, but it would probably be worth the price of a ticket just to hear talented young people do something special.   Below is last year's edition of the Pikes Peak Winds

Then in Mid-March they will head east to New York City, the 19th at Carnegie Hall, the 21st at Lincoln Center.

The old joke goes, "Man says to cab driver in NYC, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? driver says....Practice!" 

These teens have done that...and Richard has them ready to take on one of the most prestigious performance spaces in the world.  He did this once before a few years ago with another group from the CSYS.  He's confident that this group will do very well.  Here he is outside the famous venue that last time he made the trip.

So on March 19th, the musicians will settle, the Hall will go quiet the way concert halls do when the audience senses things are about to start.  Richard will raise his baton and those 47 members of the Pikes Peak Winds will make music they'll never forget.

As for my friend Richard, conducting at Carnegie Hall with then be two......of the most incredible moments he's ever had.

We'll talk again soon.

Don Ward



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