Ian Hook had high hopes of a summer musical education at Berklee College of Music’s prestigious Boston Conservatory.
The Cass County Community Foundation had the means to realize these hopes.
It all added up to a life-changing summer for Hook, a senior at Lewis Cass High School.
“It changed my perspective on everything in ways I never would have thought of,” Hook said.
That everything he mentions makes music. Hook wants to compose film scores one day in his future.
Hook attended two high school summer sessions at the Boston Conservatory. The first class was a brass workshop. He continues with a course in musical composition.
During these sessions, he took a crash course in composition with a deadline. He wrote two multi-movement works and a Chicago-style chamber brass piece in three days at the brass workshop. In composition class, he wrote a solo piano piece in 24 hours and a B-flat clarinet and vibraphone duet in less than three days. He also had five days to write a string quartet.
The deadlines were stressful but gave him a sense of urgency, Hook said.
“I had no time to waste,” he said.
Every day was filled with musical experiences. There were warm-ups, guest artist talks, and ensemble sections. In the evenings, students were treated to faculty recitals and participated in jam sessions.
“The faculty was awesome,” Hook said. “It’s very hard to describe how crazy it was to see them in action and to receive help from them.”
Among the guest artists were Kenneth Thompkins, principal trombonist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and jazz trumpeter Philip Dizack.
Along with all the other experiences, Hook has met other music students from around the world, including China, Venezuela, Chile, Russia, and Puerto Rico.
“Each project had a different studio for the songwriting schedule,” Hook said. “There were five students per studio, including myself and a faculty member. I could hear a lot of different music and a lot of different techniques. It was really cool, especially with the variety of cultures. There were students who wrote Latin music and others who wrote more international music. It was very cool.”
Hook’s life-changing summer almost didn’t happen. Programs and expenses would have amounted to over $6,000. He contacted the CCCF to see if they offered funding for high school students.
Deanna Crispen, executive director and CEO of CCCF, said no. But she told Hook she would watch and see what she could do. Hook took her at her word, and her persistence in checking in with Crispen paid off.
Crispen approached the CCCF board about the use of money donated by the estate of Richard and Rose Gates of the Royal Center for educational purposes to support Hook’s businesses. They agreed.
Crispen stopped by Lewis Cass to tell Hook about the opportunity in person.
“This young man is going places,” Crispen said. “He’s an incredible musician, incredible musical talent. We’re just grateful that we were able to find a way to help him.
Through Hook, CCCF strives to make these opportunities accessible to other high school students.
“After talking to Ian, he really helped shed some light on the fact that there are many programs like the one he was involved in that would be great for young people, but there is no funding,” said said Crispen.
Crispen jokingly called Hook a test for a pilot program. She said he was so excited about the experience that he texted her on the first day of the brass workshop ready to tell her what was going on. Hook then made a presentation for Crispen and the CCCF Board of Directors upon his return.
“When you see a youngster who has that passion and that joy and being able to experience something like that at that level, that’s why we’re here,” Crispen said. “One day, when he is a world famous film composer, we can look back and say that we helped this young man get started. It gives us all joy.
“(The CCCF) has been a huge help,” Hook said. “I couldn’t have left without their help. They helped me with my plane ticket. They helped me with my tuition, my accommodation, my food. Almost everything.
Hook is taking a music composition course this year at Lewis Cass, and he’s excited to share what he’s learned with his classmates.
He will also participate in many musical activities: brass band, jazz band, pep band, winter percussion, solo ensemble for choir and brass band, advanced choir.
It’s all part of a journey that will take Hook to new heights and maybe even lead him to accept an Oscar for best film score one day.
“If you want something, pursue it,” he said. ” Do not hold yourself back. Go for it because you never know what will happen.