Memorial concert

University band dedicates Feb. 24 performance to victim of mass shooting

By Alicyn McClish

Mass shootings seem like a world away from the world of music. But for Director of Bands at the University of Findlay, Dr. Wes King, one such event brought his world crashing down.

“These things continue to happen, nobody does a thing, we all talk about how terrible it is and it continues to happen,” said Dr. Wes King.

King lost his mother in a mass shooting at a Kroger in Collierville, TN in September 2021. The shooting had a total of 14 victims, 13 of which survived. King’s 70-year-old mother Olivia did not.

 This spring he will dedicate the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble spring performance to his mom.

“Every song, every piece of music that is selected on this concert reflects either a part of who my mother was, part of her personality or things that she liked,” said King.

The symphonic band will be performing first with a mariachi tune called “Guadalajara.”  King’s grandparents were immigrants from Mexico so this song will encompass his Mexican heritage while also celebrating the life of his mother.

Some other songs being performed include Schubert’s “Ave Maria” to represent his mother’s Catholicism, a medley of classic movie music to honor his mother’s love of movies, and “Who’s Who in Navy Blue” which honors his mother, a Navy wife of 21 years, his father, a commander in the Navy, and his brothers’ service in the Navy.

“Were You There” was chosen to commemorate one of the last things that his mother did in her life. King says, “One of the last things she did on this Earth was to go and be at church and be with Jesus, the day she went to be with Jesus and that piece reflects that.”

The wind ensemble will open the second half of the concert with a Tejano piece called Los Caracoles.” The song was written by King’s uncle who had a Tejano band, so the piece shows their Texan heritage. “Good Night Moon” is also being performed by the wind ensemble with a guest singer, Carol Dusdieker, chair of the music department at Heidelberg University.

The concert will end with the wind ensemble and symphonic bands joining together to play Rossano Galante’s piece “Afterlife,” which is another piece meant to encompass King’s religion as he says he already knows what come next.

King said there is one song he is most excited to hear; “Into the Silent Land”, which is about the Sandy Hook school shooting.

“So for the audience to put themselves into the shoes of those children, parents that lost children, students who lost their peers, their best friends,” King said, “I hope they think deeply about why we keep letting this happen.”

Senior band student, Krissy Johnson, says the motivation behind the concert’s theme has been inspiring.

“I personally feel like I need to do a really great job on this concert,” said Johnson, “I have been practicing a lot more than I ever have in the past, so I feel like the theme might have an influence on that.”

“This is what musicians and artists do when things happen, we make art, we make music, we create something so there is a reaction to it,” King said.

The public can listen to this concert dedicated as a celebration of life on Thursday, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Marathon Performing Arts Center or tune in to the live stream on UFTV.

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