A classical way to change lives

Last week on NPR, I heard about a woman who was hauling a piano around North Dakota.  Funded through a grant, she was lugging a piano to out-of-the way schools and delivering the beauty and wealth of classical music to children who might otherwise never experience music in live performance.  Much the same thing happened at JMU last week — though nobody was lugging pianos.  Robert McCashin, director of orchestras and professor of conducting at James Madison University, welcomed more than a thousand secondary students to campus for two concerts. These students were treated to one of two orchestral concerts, an experience that many  — like the Nebraska children — might not have if it were not for the efforts of McCashin and his JMU orchestra students.  In addition to hearing wonderful music, McCashin instructed these young students on the finer points of conducting.  Some he brought on stage to guest conduct.

For McCashin, it’s personal.  When he was a young student growing up in Chattanooga, Tenn., he was treated to similar concerts through the Leonard Bernstein series.  McCashin says it was “a mantle I needed to carry on,” delivering the beauty and grace of music.   McCashin is changing lives through music.  And while this year’s theme was “ostinato,” which is a repeated lyric or rhythm, McCashin’s own ostinato is reverberating through the sensibilities of young minds, who someday — like McCashin — will themselves take up the mantle and pass on the gift of music.

There’s much more to this story and to the conductor’s impact beyond the campus. Stay tuned!


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

One Response to A classical way to change lives

  1. Jan Gillis says:

    How well I remember the Leonard Bernstein concerts from childhood; they were a real high point to the school year the few times our rural school had the privilege of attending. So glad that JMU is making the arts available to the younger generations. Who knows what talent will blossom?


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