Former student stages concert to give back to KHS

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Fri., Dec. 28, 2012
Proud parents Deb and Mark Ney stand alongside their son, Aaron. Photos by D. Coffey.
Proud parents Deb and Mark Ney stand alongside their son, Aaron. Photos by D. Coffey.

When University of Texas sophomore Aaron Ney came home for winter break on Dec. 18, one of the first things he did was rehearse for a concert on Dec. 20. The Killingly High School alum, and Brenda Rich-Pike, an organist from the Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Thompson, teamed up to give a benefit concert for KHS music students. Ney donated his time and talents so that other KHS students might enjoy the experience and exposure to state and regional music festivals.

Ney attended all the festivals he could while at KHS, including the New England Music Festival Association’s Concert Festivals and the All State Festival hosted by the Connecticut Music Educators Association. According to KHS choral director Pam Rodgers, costs to attend festivals can run from $100 for NEMFA, to $300 for All State, and $500 for the Eastern Seaboard Regional. It’s money that some students don’t have. As a result, not all those students who auditioned and were accepted could attend. “A few kids didn’t go because of the money,” Rodgers said.

Ney thought he could help. He spoke with fellow KHS alum Michael Herklots, who has raised more than $250,000 for the Career Pathways Program in the 14 years since his graduation. “He [Herklots] knows what he's doing,” Ney said. “We went back and forth about it and decided on this concert.”

Ney performed a virtuoso performance. He opened with a modern piece called “Oliver’s Birthday,” went into a slow “Sonata for Trumpet and Piano,” before playing “Legends,” a French style arrangement by George Enescu. Two Baroque pieces followed after intermission, Handel’s “Suite for Trumpet in D major,” and Hummel’s “Trumpet Concerto in E flat.” He selected the music based on his class assignments, as well as the instruments he owns: a B flat, C, E flat and piccolo trumpet. “I have four horns,” he said. “I thought I might as well use them all.”

Ney’s trumpet teacher Dan D’Addio thought his former student carried it off in classic style. He complemented the skills Ney brought to the performance in “Sonata for Trumpet and Piano,” by Eric Ewazen. “Not only does he pull the tempo back,” D’Addio said, “but he divides the beat from thirds to halves. That's very technical. He’s one of the finest trumpet players I’ve ever had.”

“He's just incredibly talented musically,” said KHS music teacher Jeffrey Ethier. “He's mature beyond his years. Even as a high school senior, you'd swear he was already thinking ahead. It's so nice to see him doing something like this.”

When Ney called Ethier and Rodgers to the stage during intermission, he presented them with $1,066. The money represented donations he'd been able to gather from local businesses, community members and contributions from the audience. Ethier called the concert a great idea. “For him to contribute his gift of music and put it towards a great cause makes me proud of him,” he said.

“I'm poor, but I have this,” Ney said. “Maybe I can start something.”

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