Newly finished 'Fox Valley Suite' to make its debut at Geneva Middle School South
The "Fox Valley Suite" musical composition has been years in the making and band members from Geneva middle schools and high school have been working to bring it all together for a concert Tuesday night at Geneva Middle School South.
It comes from the musical mind of the late Daniel Brewbaker, a New York composer who wrote for numerous professional groups, but had his roots in the Fox Valley.
Most importantly, he had developed a friendship with Geneva Middle Schools band instructor Jason Flaks.
Flaks and Brewbaker became friends when they worked with young people in the Elgin Symphony Orchestra.
Through that friendship, Flaks often turned to Brewbaker for ideas or help when putting musical pieces together for the school bands. Over time, Brewbaker began working on "Fox Valley Suite," a complex piece for young students with vast rhythmic layering.
But he was diagnosed with glioblastoma years ago and passed away last spring before completing the piece.
Determined to see his musicians complete the piece and perform it live, Flaks recruited the help of Geneva High School alum and composer Ethan Parcell to finish it.
"Daniel did a masterful job with this piece of keeping his voice while working within the confines of what is appropriate to expect of middle school musicians," Flaks said of Brewbaker, himself a trumpet player during his years at Larkin High School in Elgin.
"Daniel really embraced the nostalgia and loved that kids today were getting the same kick out of playing music that he did when he was their age," Flaks said.
But Parcell's contribution can't be overlooked, considering that he was able to finish the suite in preparation for the 7 p.m. concert Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the school cafeteria, 1415 Viking Drive, Geneva.
"The thing that was both the trickiest and most stimulating in this regard was trying to keep the vision in a micro- and macro-scale simultaneously," Parcell said. "I know a composer's brain can be very particular about a small detail in a small moment, but always in service of the construction of the whole."
Because Brewbaker had mapped out the piece from beginning to end, it was a matter of filling the gaps and determining how to "voice this one chord and with which instruments," Parcell added.
Though he wants the attention on his musical students and the effort that Parcell put into the composition, Flaks also clearly views this concert as a tribute to his friend.
"Daniel became very generous with me by writing for my brass choir and always being a resource to talk about composition with students in Geneva," Flaks said. "Whenever my students had a question about how composition worked, or what magic went into it, we'd fire off an email to Daniel and we'd always get a really thoughtful response."
The public is invited to the Tuesday concert -- the place to see what type of response the students have put together for their musical friend's cherished composition.
Longer happy trails:
I'm not a bike rider, so I have to admit I probably haven't taken advantage of the Great Western Trail that runs west from its location on Dean Street in St. Charles about 17 miles to Sycamore.
But we have walked long portions of it plenty of times and find it to be a great piece of this area's natural settings.
As such, it was good to hear the St. Charles Park District touting its process to have the trail extend from Randall Road to the Fox River. That idea got a nice boost in a federal grant of $473,860 from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The long-range plan is to extend the trail from LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve to the eastern edge of St. Charles.
And every time we go for a walk on the trail, it reminds me of an older gentleman I met when first coming to work in this area in the late 1970s.
John Verachtert was an interesting fellow, not the least of which was his claim that he worked as a teen on the last cattle drive out of Sycamore into St. Charles to load livestock on the trains to Chicago.
That cattle drive, in the early 1900s, pretty much followed what is now the Great Western Trail.
Take your seat:
If you enjoy hanging around a theater and helping people, you might want to check in with the Paramount Arts Center in Aurora and see if they are still in need of volunteer ushers.
Jenna Gagliano-Blunk, who is in charge of the volunteer usher program, was making the rounds to Aurora service clubs recently and mentioning she would like to add some more people to her list.
The theater had 322 volunteers at that time, but she sounded like she wanted to boost that number to avoid having to send out emergency calls when the staff was short for any given event.
If interested, give her a call at (630) 723-2482 or drop a note to email@example.com.
Lots of coffee:
The Geneva Chamber of Commerce has an interesting new event it is offering with The Coffee Cup Crawl on Saturday, March 2.
It's like any other "crawl" that visits local pubs or historic locations, except it has to do with trying coffee at a bunch of Geneva businesses and coffee shops. Some of these coffee samples, the chamber says, will have the surprise of alcohol included.
Not being much of a coffee drinker, this sort of thing likely is not for me.
But I do have to ask. Can you drink that much coffee in a short period of time? I'm thinking one might have to peel me off a wall or something if I had too much coffee in me.
Those interested in this crawl should contact the chamber at (630) 232-6060 for tickets, which are $20 or register online at genevachamber.com.
More chicken choices:
Batavia city officials told me more than a year ago that we could expect some type of quick-serve restaurant to possibly build on what would be the empty Avenue Chevy spot on Randall Road.
And it appears that is the case, as a Raising Canes Chicken Fingers restaurant is expected to be in operation at Randall Road and McKee Street by the end of the year.
A few folks have wondered out loud on social media channels as to why we need another chicken spot in Batavia. Well, that is sort of like asking why we need more Mexican, Chinese, seafood or burger joints.
That's the food we eat, folks, and smart franchise owners or entrepreneurs know that. What is totally unnecessary is for anyone to blast a new place before it has even opened.
Could turn out that Raising Canes will have the best chicken we've ever tasted. And even if it doesn't, we want it to do well and employ some local adults and kids.