KENMORE — When the Kenmore East High School spring concert kicks off tonight, amidst all the students, friends and family there will be 26 silent presences in the auditorium.
Twenty-six white flowers will bloom in the band pit. Twenty-six names will decorate a white Tree of Remembrance.
And two very special pieces of music will pay tribute to the 26 victims of the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The concert, which takes place at 7 p.m. today, will feature performances by the school’s jazz combo, string orchestra, symphonic orchestra, jazz band, honors jazz band, concert band and symphonic wind ensemble. Of those groups, the honors jazz band will present a premiere performance of “Too Soon to Say Goodbye,” by Ken East graduate Bill Todd, and the wind ensemble will present the premiere of “My Flight for Heaven” by composer Frederick Umar, said band director Phil Aguglia. Both pieces are dedicated to the memory of those killed in Newtown.
”I didn’t go into this concert thinking I was going to do a Sandy Hook tribute concert. It kind of evolved,” Aguglia said. “It’s not a pleasant topic. but if you do it right — it gets them thinking.
”I can tell you after Fredrick Umar was here, they were thinking. When they see him choked up, telling them what he was thinking, what it meant to him — it all of a sudden meant a lot more to them.”
Last week, Umar spent a day at the school, working and speaking with wind ensemble members about his arrangement of “My Flight for Heaven.”
Danielle Rosina, a junior who plays the flute in the ensemble, said the experience made her think of telling her younger brother about the shootings and what it meant.
”The piece is very reflective of the emotion that the people felt ... and still feel today,” she said. “He’s just amazing. He was just emotional in his conducting, when he was speaking about why he wrote this, very emotional about this piece.”