A long drive to and from Anne Arundel County, Maryland prompted Cornelius Young to step down as musical director of the Vienna Community Band, but he leaves with fond memories of the band and the city.
Young, who has been with the band since October 2014, decided to try out for the job after not being selected to lead the Annandale High School band.
“I thought it would be great to run a college or a community group, something with adults,” he said, noting that his previous jobs involved coaching young people.
“With kids, you’re starting from zero or very close,” Young said. “With the adults, they come with all their different instruments. Some have played with bands, others haven’t touched their instruments for 30 years.
Vienna Community Band executives thanked Young for his efforts, saying he “exemplified musical leadership and expertise, pushing the band to tackle a variety of new musical pieces and finding opportunities to pair the band with unique talents, in particular by bringing in singers, solo musicians and involving young people in the shows.
Young’s final shows with the band will be July 10 at 7 p.m. at Fort Hunt Park in Alexandria and July 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Vienna Town Green.
Young grew up in Clinton, Mississippi, and first became interested in music after the local high school band performed for his sixth grade class. While planning to become a drummer, Young ended up playing tuba.
He had his first experience of musical education in ninth grade, when he helped other students with their instruments.
Young attended Southwest Mississippi Community College, then transferred to the University of Southern Mississippi and earned a bachelor’s degree in music education. He then did graduate work at Eastern Michigan University.
Trained in conducting, piano and tuba, he has taught music in Michigan, Mississippi and Maryland and – as is typical for people in this field – has performed with a multitude of groups. In 2004, he conducted La Banda dell’Esercito (Italian Army Band) during a trip to Rome with the University of Southern Mississippi.
As the leader of the Vienna Community Band, Young put his musicians to the test with a wide selection of works.
“I wanted to play the typical neoclassical repertoire, but also fun stuff, like stuff played by middle school and high school bands and movie songs,” he said. “We tried to program for everyone.”
The most difficult songs for the group were works that oscillated between several meters.
“It really forces them to bring their A game,” Young said.
Tracks with different types of harmony, such as atonal and quartal, which were not always familiar to musicians’ ears, were also difficult, he said.
Among Young’s favorite works are Gustav Holst’s “First Suite in E Flat”, Percy Grainger’s “Irish Tune from County Derry”, Jack Stamp’s “The Beltway Jam” and Derek Bourgeois’ “Serenade”.
Young also asked the band to play jazz works that had been arranged for concert bands. He had played with the DC jazz group Different Drummers, but will also move away from it.
During his time with the band, Young from 2018 to 2021 also served as band director for the Green Hedges School in Vienna.
Although the long commute convinced him to step down from that position and announce his upcoming departure from the Vienna Community Band at his December holiday concert, he called his tenure at Green Hedges “probably the best years of my life.” teaching career”.
He was able to incorporate the band from Green Hedges into the Vienna Community Band during two winter and spring concerts “Walk on the Hill” in the historic district of Windover Heights in Vienna.
Young said he wanted to spend more time with his 6-year-old son, Ketan. Young’s wife, Reena, is of Indian descent and teaches music and orchestra in Prince George’s County. As a clarinetist, she also performed with the Vienna Community Band and strengthened its clarinet section, said Judith Buchino, the band’s secretary.
“I sat right next to her and loved playing with her,” Buchino said. “However, once they had their little boy, she couldn’t play with us anymore, and I really miss her. She keeps Cornelius on his toes imparting his wisdom on how to play the clarinet, and he very gently imparts his wisdom in the most delightful and caring way.
Young recommended that his eventual successor make the most of Vienna’s small-town atmosphere and its indoor and outdoor concert opportunities.
“Embrace the group, enjoy all the personalities in it and all the city has to offer,” he advised. “Have fun and make sure the group is having fun.”[https://sungazette.news provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]