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Teacher Grant Recipient Spotlight Interview 2016-2017 School Year

Educational Grants Program Teacher Educational Grants

The song is named, quite simply, “Drew.”  It is a tribute to a WGHS alumnus, Drew Thompson; a gifted young bassoonist who unexpectedly passed away in 2013, at the age of 27.  An undiagnosed heart condition took this amazing musician way too young.

So, in July of 2016, when the WGHS band was chosen for the honor of performing at the Missouri Music Educators Association, band teacher Jill Young had an idea.  She and the other band directors wanted to commission a musical piece for the band to play, to honor Drew. 

And, she did.  Young and the other music faculty members at the high school reached out to local composer Adam Maness, to write a musical tribute to Drew.  Maness met with members of Drew’s family to find inspiration for his song.  And, by January, he had a bassoon-featured manuscript for the WGHS band. 

But, commissioning a piece of music is not cheap; it requires hours of work and inspiration.  Young was able to finance this work in part through a WGHS Parents’ Club grant.  The club financed half of the $2000 cost of the music. 

In January, 2017, “Drew” made its debut to the world, at the Powell Symphony Hall.  Because of Drew’s connection with the symphony, the high school band was invited to perform their music on the stage at Powell.  This concert was devoted to Drew and featured several professional bassoonists who had known the young man.  Kevin Cole, the WGHS band director and Drew’s former band teacher, conducted the performance. 

The honor of high school students playing at Powell is highly unusual and Young explains that she has never had an opportunity to do this before or since. 

“Drew” is now moving east, to be performed at the New England Conservatory this fall.  And, it is possible that the manuscript will be formally published in the near future.  All of this, a testament to a gifted young man whose life was cut short. 

It is the mission of the Webster Groves High School Parents’ Club to support our teachers, students, and families.  In this case, your donation dollars helped bring a new song to the world.

Article by WGHS Parents' Club Committee Member, Cheryl Davidson

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