Coleton Carnegie practices his piano concerto with other members of the Princess Margaret senior concert band

Coleton Carnegie practices his piano concerto with other members of the Princess Margaret senior concert band

Student composer debuts

The Princess Margaret senior band is working on something special for their year-end concert.

The Princess Margaret senior band is working on something special for their year-end concert.

Mixed in with high school band standards will be a totally new piece, a piano concerto composed by Coleton Carnegie.

What makes this performance even more unique, is that Carnegie is one of their own, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student and member of the band.

“I have written a couple of piano sonatas, just for myself, but this is the first piece meant for an ensemble,” said Carnegie, who added that his classmates have been supportive.

“I think it’s super cool  that you actually stepped up to the plate and wrote something,” Allison Smith, another member of the band, told Carnegie. “And I think it is really awesome that we are playing it for you and kind of making that dream come true.”

Music instructor Don Grant said this is the first time in 31 years he has ever had a student write a work of this scale.

“This is the first time in my career,” said Grant. “I have had kids write some songs but nothing to this extent.

“He talked about it and then he brought it out. I didn’t know what to expect.”

Carnegie, who counts Mozart among his influences, said he was 10 years old when he discovered classical music.

“I was on Youtube one day and I accidentally clicked on a video by Beethoven. I was going to X out of it, but I just started listening and it was in those few moments that I realized my life purpose,” said Carnegie. “It sounds cheesy but its true.”

Grant describes Carnegie as cut from a different block.

“I wish more were cut from that block. Coleton, he does his own thing. He is not heavily influenced by pop culture,” said Grant. “He listens to Mozart and he practices the piano all the time. It’s what he does.”

Carnegie said the experience composing for an ensemble, rather than just himself, was a challenge.

“I know my abilities, I know what I can do. For them, it is more of a guessing game, because I am not in their heads,” said Carnegie, adding that his bandmates are enthusiastic about working with him to bring out the best performance of the concerto.

“It is really nice to have feedback from Coleton. Actually having the person who wrote it, the composer, here is nice. If there is anything he thinks would sound better when we play it, he can change it, and help us grow,” said Sophie Biollo.

The senior concert band will be performing Carnegie’s piano concerto, and other pieces at 7:30 p.m. on June 17 at Princess Margaret Secondary. Admission is by donation.