On February 25, 300 top band and orchestra students from Mason High School traveled north to perform in Cleveland’s renowned Severance Hall. MHS Orchestra Director Stephanie Jones and Band DirectorsRobert Bass and Avious Jackson collaborated to showcase both of their nationally recognized programs in what is widely regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful concert halls.
“Severance Hall is remarkable not just for its beauty, but also for its incredible acoustics,” shared Jones. “The students recognized the magic of the experience from the moment they played their first note. Their eyes lit up with excitement to hear how amazing they sounded in such a fabulous performance venue.”
Performing at one of the world's premier halls is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most students. “Very few professional musicians, much less high school students, have had the opportunity to play on that amazing stage,” said Jones. Bass agreed. “Stephanie and I believe it’s a great opportunity for our students to perform in a venue like this, to expose them to a professional hall, and to be treated in a professional manner at a concert.”
Mason’s Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras took advantage of the resources in Cleveland to attend a workshop on February 26 with Dr. Kathleen Horvath, Director of Orchestras at Case Western Reserve University. Horvath listened to students play and provided feedback about how to improve as musicians. Jones said Horvath also encouraged students to remain involved in music, regardless of their college majors, and shared that 75% of students involved in orchestra at Case Western are non-music majors.
Following the clinic at Case Western, orchestra students returned to Severance Hall for a tour of the facility and participated in a symposium to learn more about what happens behind the scenes of a professional orchestra, including the business elements and support required to run an arts organization. The group also attended a concert that evening featuring the Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Ballet.
Mason’s Symphonic Band and Wind Symphony traveled to Youngstown State University following the Cleveland performance to participate in the 10th Annual YSU Wind & Percussion Invitational on February 26 in Stambaugh Auditorium. According to Dr. Stephen Gage, Director of Bands and Orchestra at YSU, “The programs performed by Mason were at the peak, if not beyond, of what only the truly exceptional high school concert bands in America can tackle. Each of the compositions played was passionately performed, and the preparation and quality of the performances was truly remarkable.”
Bass said he and his band and orchestra colleagues want to continue to explore these non-competitive opportunities for their students, "exposing them to great musicians and great performance halls and encouraging lifelong learners and lovers of music."
Photo: 300 top band and orchestra students from Mason High School performed at Cleveland’s Severance Hall on February 25. Pictured is Mason’s full orchestra, directed by Stephanie Jones.