The students of the 201516 Silverbrook Intermediate School Bands have been a part of a very special project. Near the end of last school year, band directors Heidi Baumann-Schuppel and Brandon Yahn contacted award-winning composer Michael Sweeney about the possibility of commissioning a piece of music for Silverbrook. Mr. Sweeney agreed and a creative partnership began that few student musicians get to experience at such a young age.
Since the piece was to be written specifically for the Silverbrook Bands, Mr. Sweeney was able to tailor his music to the needs of the students as requested by Mrs. Baumann-Schuppel and Mr. Yahn. The band directors and Mr. Sweeney discussed the size and instrumentation of the bands, what style and level of difficulty the piece should be, the cost of the project, and even ideas for the title.
Mr. Sweeney began writing Silverbrook’s piece last summer and finished in January 2016. He came to Silverbrook this past March and worked with the students on his newly completed Viking! During the question and answer session at the end of the clinic, students were surprised to learn that almost half of Mr. Sweeney’s musical themes and ideas never make it into the final piece. Composing is a long and thoughtful process.
Mr. Sweeney works for the Hal Leonard Corporation in Milwaukee, the largest publisher of printed music in the world. In his present position, Mr. Sweeney is directly responsible for the development, production, recording, and marketing of new publications for school bands. Since 1982, Hal Leonard has published over 500 of his compositions and arrangements.
Mrs. Baumann-Schuppel has commissioned Mr. Sweeney to write new music for the students of West Bend twice in the past. In 2006, over 250 students and alumni of the then Silverbrook Middle School, premiered Silverbrook. In 2013, Mr. Sweeney wrote Rutabaga Ramble for the Silverbrook Jazz Ensemble.
The Silverbrook Bands are honored that Mr. Sweeney agreed to conduct the world premiere of his new composition, Viking! Once the Silverbrook Bands perform their premier, Viking! will be published by the Hal Leonard Publishing Company. It will be marketed worldwide, so that other school bands can learn and enjoy performing it.Silverbrook Bands can be proud that they were part of the creative process that will bring new band literature to musicians around the world.
Tonight’s concert in the gym at Silverbrook School gets underway at 6 p.m.
Courtesy Brandon Yahn