Dr. Masahito Kuroda, associate professor of euphonium, tuba and sound technology in Northwestern State University’s Department of Music, recently completed a short video project called “Song for Health,” featuring current studio students, alumni, faculty and friends of NSU Euphonium-Tuba studio.
The video can be viewed at nsu.la/SongForHealth.
“The piece is called ‘Song for Health’ originally written by a Dutch composer, Steven Verhelst,” Kuroda explained. “He and his musician friends in Europe started this project called ‘Song for Health – Connect The World Through Music’ initiative. The composer dedicated this short and beautiful music to ‘our great health care and social workers at the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and removed all the copyright from this piece, so that anyone in the world could arrange, perform and share their performance videos to express appreciation to our health care and social workers, keep making music, feel connected and share support to each other in musical way.”
Hundreds of performance videos are shared on the official Facebook page at #musicdoesntstop (https://www.facebook.com/musicdoesnstop/) since the project began, Kuroda said.
“The performances are from literally all over the world, despite the fact many of us still cannot perform in large group in the same room,” Kuroda said. “Those videos are made from individual cell phone videos they shot at their own places, kept together with the piano accompaniment track. On their Facebook page, you will find videos of brass band from Germany, public school bands from Thailand, professional trombone players in Netherlands, and many, many others, all performing this heart-warming tune.”
Last summer, one of Kuroda’s former students, NSU alum Byron Walters, informed him of the project and sent him a link to the website.
“I immediately started arranging this song for NSU Euphonium-Tuba Ensemble, which I have directed for the last 19 years,” he said. “This alumnus was a member of another project we did back in 2012 called ‘Song for Japan’ by the same composer, for which we sent video performance to the people in the affected area after the massive earthquake and tsunami followed by a nuclear accident there.
“After the arrangement was completed, I sent out the parts and the invitation to all of my students, studio alumni and low brass colleagues and friends who were at that time all separated, not being able to make music together. As you can imagine, it is rather difficult to find a place to play large low brass instruments as euphonium and tuba at home, but many of my students managed to find the place to play and record their parts as did my colleagues and my former students who have been active as public school music educators or professional military band player. It took me longer than I anticipated to put everything together due to further complication caused by hurricane damage, but I completed it and I think the end product really shows the positive impact music can have to each other even in the most difficult time and situation we are in.”
“It is a very short video, but it really gave opportunity for all the participants to bring back the sense of togetherness, and I am hoping it will bring some positive feelings to the online audience when they watch this video in this difficult time,” Kuroda said.
Performers include the following.
On euphonium are current students Colten Denning, Jake English, Emily Grant, Cody James and Lucy Stark; NSU alumni Joseph Casselberry, Mark Dorsey, Brandon Legnion, Byron Walters and Fernando Zuniga; local professional musician Ernest Bott (Rapides Symphony Orchestra) and NSU faculty Kuroda and Dr. J. Mark Thompson, professor of trombone and low brass.
On tuba are current students Taylor Carrell, Gustavo Corrales, Justin Garretson, Ivan Longoria and Nathan Nors and NSU faculty Kuroda and Thompson.
On piano is alumnus Kazue Seo and Kuroda.
Kuroda is also conductor and producer of the video.