JCJC hosts Mississippi premiere of new music

ELLISVILLE, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from Jones County Junior College

ELLISVILLE – Jones County Junior College recently hosted the premiere of new music in Mississippi with euphonium soloist, Travis Scott's performance of Sonata No.2 for Euphonium and Piano, "Tidings of Comfort and Joy" (2013) by Barbara York (b. 1949).   The concert performance of the new piece was also dedicated in memory of JCJC's Director of Bands, Jonathan Helmick and Scott's college friend, Reverend Ryan Mathews.  He died tragically from injuries he sustained in a car accident after his recent graduation from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Mo.

"In tragic times of life we often turn to music for comfort," Scott said, explaining the purpose for commissioning the music memorial. "Ryan was inspiring because he didn't let his disability prevent him from doing whatever he was interested in doing.  Playing the trumpet and marching on the field is difficult, but he did it in a wheelchair! Several of his friends and family thought music was an appropriate way to honor his life."

The nationally known euphonium soloist, musical arranger, conductor, educator and author was also the section leader in the University of Akron, Ohio marching band when Helmick joined the band.  The marching band would quickly become the venue for the friendship between the three. Mathews, who Helmick described as full of life and inspiring, had such an influence on Helmick that it prompted him to change his perspective of life.

"Ryan didn't know he was in a wheelchair.  His passing reminded Travis and me that you can't wait to do those things on your bucket list.  Working with Travis was on my list and I am so proud to introduce him to my students and South Mississippi," said Helmick.

Scott performed at the Southeast Mississippi Band Directors' Association Clinic Concert, hosted at Jones, along with the JCJC Concert Band.  In addition, Helmick invited Scott to premiere the new music at a special concert with his students and JCJC family because Jones is a special place he hopes his students will appreciate.

"I hope JCJC students understand the importance of relationships.  Travis' concert should also give them the courage to see the many opportunities being a musician can offer," Helmick added.

After listening to the four very different movements in Sonata No. 2 for Euphonium and Piano, the audience was definitely impressed with Scott's musical tribute and his abilities.

"It was jaw-dropping," said James Mahalak a sophomore trombone player from Petal.  "You realize this is what I'm preparing to do with my life."

Instead of being intimidated by Scott's spectacular performance, JCJC students said they were inspired to perfect their performance abilities.

"He's one of those musicians that opened my eyes and reminded me of the reason why I play," said euphonium player and JCJC sophomore from Pensacola, FL., Sam Cruz.  "I love how he takes the slow parts of the music and makes it beautiful. His range is amazing!"

Freshman, Doby Herring of Waynesboro added, "We all live for those moments when the music and the musician give you goose bumps.  It makes you want to practice more. It is very motivating."

Scott reminded students he spends hours practicing music and because there isn't a lot of music written for the euphonium, he commission's pieces, like Sonata No. 2 for Euphonium and Piano.

"The euphonium is not a mainstream instrument.  So I have to be an advocate and increase the repertoire of music because a musician can only be as good as the music available to play.  Since the creation aspect of music is not my gift, I actively commission pieces," said Scott.

Helmick assisted with the commission, "Tidings of Comfort and Joy", along with Scott and several others: Ed and Cari Dubiel, Gregory Frister, Richard Shirey, Paul and Valerie Stewart, Richard and Karen (Mathews) Thomason and the University of Akron Tuba Ensemble.

"Music was the force that brought us together. Hopefully our students will be able to appreciate that. The relationships that they are building through music last a lifetime!" Helmick shared.

Following the concert, JCJC students seemed to have taken that lesson to heart. Cruz shared, "One of my dreams will be to one day, come back to Jones and perform for music students."