The beat goes on as one of the biggest names in the band world, who also happens to be an American Bandmaster, created a masterpiece in memory of former Richmond Hill Middle School Wildcat Winds member Alivea Cox.
Saturday at the RHMS spring concert, Wildcat Winds members joined alongside former members to perform Soliloquy, a song that was written by world renowned American composer and conductor Dr. David Holsinger in memory of Alivea, who passed away due to a short illness in June 2018.
“One of the last pieces that Alivea played with our band was Hymnsong of Philip Bliss by David Holsinger. This piece was especially special because it has a very famous and difficult French horn solo. Since this piece was so special to Alivea, we decided to reach out to Dr. Holsinger and see if he would be willing to work on a commission with the RHMS band to celebrate Alivea’s life through music.” stated RHMS band director Alisha Bowden.
A commission is where an individual, a band, or a group of bands requests a conductor to write a piece for them. This music becomes published with the band's name and information on it for all other bands to be able to purchase and perform the piece.
After hearing Alivea’s story and how she impacted the Richmond Hill community Dr. Holsinger went to work on the composition and completed it in less than a year.
“Soliloquy was one of the first compositions written at the end of a three-year recovery from a crippling stroke. However, my plight seemed trivial to the massive outpouring of community sadness at the passing in this remarkable young woman. Being able to write this, what I hope is a healing tribute for grieving friends, helped heal my heart as well. Alivea will live in all of us forever.” stated Dr. Holsinger.
“This piece being commissioned means the world to us and confirms that Alivea positively impacted others in her short 14 years here on earth. Knowing that her life touched others in a profound, special way and, in return, them wanting to honor her legacy through this incredibly magnificent piece of music is humbling, breathtaking and a tremendous blessing.” said Cox’s mother Kristi.
Alivea first started playing the French horn in middle school and worked her way up to first chair in the Wildcat Winds. “Tryouts on different instruments revealed the French horn was a good fit for her. It was an instrument that presented a little more of a challenge to play than other instruments, but Alivea had the breathing techniques and power that was needed in order to play it successfully.” said Cox.
Soliloquy not only highlights the French horn, but also unveiled new modulations to the students.
“While this piece does focus on the French horn section much like Dr. Holsinger’s other piece, in this one the students are exposed to some unique key changes and time signatures. While the format does follow a standard chorale piece of music, it has challenged the students with some additional, more unfamiliar, technical demands.” Bowden said.
In attendance at the concert was longtime drummer Daniel Bowden, who expressed the significance of students being exposed to unfamiliar musical techniques. “Within an orchestra, there can be music from Japanese influence, there’s different time periods, it ranges. Music is a very wide category and as a musician you have to be trained to do these things.”.
Student’s practiced Soliloquy for about a month and a half to be ready for the moment that they would be able to honor Cox and for some, reflect. “I remember her being really sweet. She was the nicest person I met.” said 8th grader Raquel Padilla.
“Alivea was an extremely talented young lady and one of the sweetest human beings I’ve ever met. I think this concert would mean a lot to her. She was such a huge part of Richmond Hill and the schools. It’s just nice to have a way to honor her and pay tribute to remembering her,” said assistant band director Paul Vogel.
Before passing, one of Alivea’s band achievements was being selected for the Director’s Award. “The Director’s Award is given each year to two students who show excellence, not only in performance, but also in dedication and character. I, being the director, select these students each year to celebrate their continuous dedication to excellence and success.” Alisha Bowden said.
Winners of this year’s Directors Awards were 8th graders Natalie Cuson and Miranda Feal. Each winner also received $250 savings bond from the Keeping ALIVEA’s Dream Alive foundation. The RHMS booster club was also presented with a $500 donation from the foundation.
More information can be found at Keeping ALIVEA’sDream Alive Facebook page.