The Ferndale Community Concert Band will dedicate its next concert to honor the victims of the Oxford High School shooting. The Ferndale Community Concert Band will perform a composition created years ago in response to another tragedy.
During Ferndale’s February City Council meeting, Sharon Chess, president and co-founder of the FCCB, announced that the concert that month was canceled, but the concerts in April and June would still take place.
The concert on April 24 at Ferndale High School will showcase the piece “American Elegy,” dedicated to the victims of the Oxford shooting and the community. This composition by John Whitwell was originally written in honor of those who suffered the consequences of the Columbine shooting, so the band thought it would be a good selection for its tribute.
“Knowing the emotion, and the content, and the purpose of this piece of music, we were all in tears,” Chess said during the meeting.
Ed Quick, the music director and conductor, proposed the idea to dedicate this performance to the Oxford community . Afterward, the band came to a consensus that it was a good selection for this show.
Many members of the band, including Quick, are current and former educators, so the meaning behind the selection was very personal.
Tim Brennan, director of logistics and co-founder, said, “This piece of music just fits in perfectly with what we wanted to portray at the concert. Because of what happened in the Oxford community back in November, the tragic [events], it kind of touches the hearts of all our educators.”
The second concert on June 19 coincides with the city’s Juneteenth celebration. The majority of the music played at this concert will be composed by African American composers.
Kwame Robinson, FCCB member, said it is so important for the band to do this because many people do not realize there are a lot of black composers with works that allow the listener to dive into intuitive, classical music.
“A lot of people don’t realize that everybody kind of sets people in categories: white people do this, and Black people do that kind of music, and Hispanics do this kind of music, but it’s not true. It’s good that we’re doing that so other people will become more enlightened and know that everybody is able to do the same things, but maybe a little bit different,” said Robinson.
He said this show is the time to be introducing people to black composers and breaking music stereotypes.
The FCCB is important to more than just the members. The city comes to see the concerts, and even those who are not familiar with the band see its role in community gathering.
Bill Veit, a Ferndale resident, said that bringing more music into the community is always a good idea. Bringing Ferndale’s citizens together by a shared love for music is something any community could use more of, he said.
“I think a lot of people that don’t go off to college or go play, maybe at a local symphony or a community college, that’s a good opportunity. I mean, especially for people that are like minded and just want to have a lot of fun and enjoy playing music,” Veit said.
The FCCB gives Ferndale an opportunity to do just that while honoring communities and celebrating together.