Ask 'Mimi,' March 12, 2017

Ask 'Mimi,' March 12, 2017

Did you work with Willie Summerville?

Yes, as a reporter. It was weird Thursday to process the last news release he sent me, about the return of the Hinds Community College Choir and Jubilee Singers to C-U this week. He always depended on me to get in print his notices of "Messiah" rehearsals and concerts and Safehouse benefit concerts. Sometimes he would get the news in late, but how could you say no to Willie? He was an indomitable force.

When I was the K-12 education reporter, I had the pleasure of visiting his Urbana High choral classroom, where he created an atmosphere of joy, learning and diversity. He treated everyone alike. One former student noted he was the only music teacher she knew who had a Hammond B3 organ in his classroom. Another called him a treasure and said singing in his choirs was among her best childhood memories.

Was anyone from this area selected for the 2017 National Youth Orchestra?

Yes, once again trumpeter James Vaughen, a senior at Uni High. I believe this is his third time in the orchestra created by Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute. It recognizes the country's finest musicians ages 16-19.

The 116 musicians selected this year will study this summer with conductor Marin Alsop and perform concerts in New York, Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia as part of the orchestra's first Latin American tour.

In September, Vaughen performed in Sinfonia da Camera's "Sounds of Youth" concert as one of the winners of its Student Concerto Competition. He plays with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra; four other of its members also made the 2017 National Youth Orchestra.

Have you seen The Eric Show yet?

Yes, I went to the opening reception Thursday evening at the Illini Union Art Gallery, where the high school art show/competition remains on view through March 31. I always enjoy seeing what the students create and the prize-winning works. There are 200 pieces on display this year.

Best of show went to Sage Phillips of Champaign Central, for her painting of a young red-haired woman; first place, Justin Beck, St. Joseph-Ogden; second, Valentina Grant, Centennial; and third, Mazey Kizer, Westville High. Honorable mentions: Natalie Wakefield, Centennial; Fiona Coleman and Allison Reiling, both of Champaign Central; Anna Brown, Hoopeston Area; Shauri Gonzalez, Urbana; Nicholas Nuetzmann, Bismarck-Henning; Curtis Chung, Uni High; and Victoria Howe and Taylor Melecosky, both of Westville High.

Have a question for 'Mimi'? We'd love to hear from you. Please email your question to mmerli@news-gazette.com.

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