Platteville High School will perform a composition written by its director of bands, “A Musical Leap out of Darkness,” at PHS Tuesday at 7 p.m.
A chance meeting of PHS teacher Nancy Fairchild’s students with author Leo Bretholz on a class trip to Washington, D.C., in 2007 provided Fairchild, with the impetus to “Leap.” Joining the band for the evening concert will be the High School Orchestra, Hillmen Strings and Hillmen Jazz. Owen Strizic is the director of orchestral studies at Platteville High School. In addition, Fairchild has been working closely with English teacher Bethany Fredericks, who teaches freshmen English. The classes are reading Night by Elie Wiesel, a survivor friend of Bretholz.
Several of Fairchild’s 2007 students met Bretholz, who was at Washington’s Holocaust Museum to promote his book Leap into Darkness. When Fairchild read the book, the story of the author’s seven-year sojourn in war-torn Europe as a boy of 17, separated forever from his family, inspired her to compose “A Musical Leap Out of Darkness,” a four-movement work for band.
Fairchild was born in Lancaster and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in instrumental/general music education from UW–Platteville and a Master of Music Education degree from the University of Illinois.
Her first published work for young bands, “Hotaru Koi,” is available through Carl Fischer, New York. Also to her credit are several other elementary band arrangements and original compositions. Fairchild composes primarily for her current ensembles and enjoys featuring non-traditional sounds in her work.
“A Musical Leap Out of Darkness,” Fairchild’s first high school-level original work, is in four movements depicting the moods and reflections of Bretholz’s survival during his seven years on the run. The first movement is based upon the secrets kept by the family and the difficult good-byes that faced a young boy of 17. The second movement depicts a theme of rushing water as he crosses a river to safety. Movement three reminds us of the many Jewish people who were transported by train to their deaths in Germany and Poland. Finally, movement four is based upon hope.
“We must never forget those who lost their lives,” said Fairchild, “but we must also never forget those who survived and are here to remind us to never forget.”