Memorial High School musicians debut D-Day composition
MANCHESTER — Members of the student band and choir at Manchester Memorial High School got the rare chance during Wednesday night’s student concert to perform the world premiere of an original composition commissioned just for them.
Nashua native Andrew Cote wrote “In the Company of Ghosts” to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 1944 D-Day landings in Normandy, France, and said the piece, which took him months to write, was in good hands with the more than 200 student musicians and singers.
“There is always (risk) with young people,” said Cote, who is now an adjunct professor of music and doctoral student at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. “But the kids are fantastic. They’ve been working really hard.”
The school’s music and choir teachers said the students benefitted not only from being handed an original piece, but to play it alongside Cote.
“It’s always great when you play with the composer,” said Timothy Russell, director of the school’s jazz ensemble. “It’s like having Shakespeare visiting a theater class.”
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the kids to perform an original piece being performed for the first time,” said Michael E. Gallagan, director of the school’s concert choir.
Cote said he was inspired by an interview he read about an Army lieutenant who landed on the beach and saw death around him.
“It’s a very reflective piece,” he said before the performance. “It’s definitely on the darker side, but it should be a really neat experience.”
The composition brings together the school’s string orchestra, concert band and concert choir.
David Brien, director of the orchestra, said the school was honored to have an original piece written with the music students in mind.
“It’s a very intimate process where the composer gets to know your ensemble,” he said.