PERRY -- Emily Moody said she was on the edge of her seat Friday when University of Georgia student musicians played Leroy Anderson’s “Bugler’s Holiday.”
Moody, a trumpet-playing senior at Perry High School, said the lively -- and challenging -- piece was something she and bandmates had attempted privately, but had never actually heard live.
“And,” Moody said, “definitely never by anyone as good as the university musicians.”
The free concert was UGA’s first-ever Sounds Across Georgia event and featured UGA’s Hodgson Wind Ensemble and the Bulldog Brass Society, the university’s premier graduate brass quintet.
Never miss a local story.
The occasion drew more than 500 students, parents and music lovers from across Middle Georgia, including Perry, Warner Robins, Macon, Hawkinsville and Dublin.
“I can only dream of being that good,” Moody said. “This is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see musicians this good here. The University of Georgia is known for its music program. They really are that good.”
But the weekend didn’t just offer Moody inspiration for being “that good” herself. The Sounds Across Georgia weekend also offered free master classes taught by UGA students to area middle and high school musicians.
Moody, who’s been playing trumpet since sixth grade, said the opportunity was truly amazing.
“You just don’t get lessons like this from performers like these every day. Very valuable.”
Andy Hursey, Perry High’s band director, said it didn’t take him long to accept the offer from Athens to bring Sounds Across Georgia to Perry.
“I got a call asking if we’d be interested,” he said. “I said yes, no question about it. Then it was just a matter of working out details. It’s well worth it to the kids and to the community.”
Cynthia Johnston Turner, director of bands at UGA’s Hugh Hodgson School of Music, rushed from classroom to classroom Saturday morning as master classes for percussion, brass, woodwinds and other instruments were underway.
She seemed as energetic and enthused as the young participants. She said the weekend’s benefits were just as real for her university students as for the middle and high school students.
“What I’ve observed is my students have had to articulate what they know and make it understandable, make it useful to their middle and high school students. There are things my students assume others understand but find out they have to come up with ways of expressing them more plainly. That alone is a worthy exercise. Add to that the joy of being able to share our gifts and give back to the community and it makes for a wonderful time.”
Michael Meo, a junior at UGA, taught in the trumpet master class Moody took. He said getting away from the university to perform and teach master classes was something new for him and the music school. He said he found it challenging and rewarding to see the public’s response at the concert and the results from younger students in the master classes.
Meg Amstutz of the university’s Office of Academic Programs helped organize Sounds Across Georgia for the music department and other UGA sponsoring departments. She said the weekend was a reflection of the university’s land grant charter and commitment to the entire state.
Amstutz said while the university is well known for bringing agricultural, homemaking and business expertise to citizens throughout Georgia, the Perry event was the first in an effort to do the same with the arts.
She said there will be another Sounds Across Georgia program at Perry High School next year.
As for Moody, motivation from the weekend is helping carry her forward to a challenging musical milestone: she’s auditioning Wednesday in Athens for her own place -- and potential scholarships -- at UGA’s school of music.
Contact Michael W. Pannell at email@example.com.