By Mary Van Jura
On Nov. 27, the Youngstown State University Dana Concert Band will perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Stephen Gage, the director of bands in the Dana School of Music, will be leading the 55-piece ensemble. They were invited to perform at Carnegie by Manhattan Concert Productions earlier in May. The Dana Concert Band is the only other university band invited to perform that day.
Gage said that while there was not much time to raise the funds, he knew he could rely on the YSU Foundation to help send the band back to Carnegie for the first time in a decade. Gage takes pride in the fact that YSU is supportive in making sure students with all interests get the chance to pursue their passions.
“This University is unique in the sense that it creates oppurtunities for its students,” Gage said.
Gage has been with YSU for 23 years and says that in that time the University has transformed from porochial to cosmopolitan. He feels the institution has matured by selecting a world class faculty that fosters a sense of pride in the students.
He believes that Youngstown is a “cultural heritage driven valley” that brings a lot to the different programs YSU offers. He said that since the students are immersed in the culture from the time they are born, they are excited about studying the arts, like the students in the Dana Concert Band.
“Music is the vehicle, but it’s all about the students,” Gage said. “55 people with similar aspirations, but their individuality makes it special.”
Tommy Starr, a sophomore percussionist, said that it will be his first time going to New York, and he is looking forward to the performance.
“I love music so much,” Starr said. “I do my best to not let my nerves get the best of me, and I just focus on the enjoyment I get from playing.”
He says that everyone has professional mindset while rehearsing, and it is like the band is one big family.
Dean LaSalandra, a bassoon performance major in his fifth year at YSU, is excited about getting the chance to play in the hall itself.
“The design of the hall gives the chance to truly showcase our abilities,” LaSalandra said.
LaSalandra also said that he is thankful for the trip being fully funded and that they get $50 per-day food allowance. He also looks forward to watching the Macy’s Day Parade and crossing it off his bucket list.
“I’ve been here a while and this ensemble is the best I’ve played with yet,” LaSalandra said.
Gage said that the Dana program attracts bright and talented students from all over. He is excited to take another generation of students to Carnegie Hall, which he described as the “pinnacle of performance venues.”
Tickets for the performance can be purchased at carnegiehall.org.