Renowned Scottish trumpeter, composer, and educator John Wallace CBE will visit St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s on Monday, Feb. 5. Parents are welcome to join us in Chapel at 10 a.m., when Mr. Wallace will speak with lower and upper division students. Parents, faculty, and students are also invited to attend a concert at Christ and St. Stephen’s Church on Monday, Feb. 12, at 7:30 p.m., at which Brass Band Director Sandy Coffin will be presenting a program of Mr. Wallace’s compositions.
“John Wallace is quite possibly one of the most influential trumpet players, brass scholars, and educators in the world today,” said Ms. Coffin, who played in his brass ensemble, The Wallace Collection, in Scotland last June. “While he is in New York City, he will also be presenting masterclasses at Juilliard, the Manhattan School of Music, and New York University; his visit to St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s puts us in good company!”
In Chapel, Mr. Wallace will be talking about James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters (369th Regiment) Band, the African-American regiment who fought for the French in WWI, which brought the beginnings of jazz to the European people. Later, when the Hellfighters returned home from the war, they were honored with a ticker tape parade up Fifth Avenue.
The Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Grade Brass Band is learning about the Harlem Hellfighters in preparation for the Gospel Celebration, where they will play Ms. Coffin’s arrangement of ‘The St. Louis Blues.’ This arrangement was premiered at Scotland's University of St. Andrews last November. “It is based on a project John and I worked together on last summer for the 2017 Historic Brass Symposium,” Ms. Coffin said, “where several pieces of the Hellfighters’ Band repertoire were performed on period instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”
Mr. Wallace has been a friend and mentor to Ms. Coffin for several years; through her connection with him (and a Faculty Travel Grant made possible by the St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's Fund), Ms. Coffin joined the faculty of the National Youth Brass Bands of Scotland (NYBBS) and has made several trips there to play and perform.
“John Wallace helped to inspire the founding of St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s brass band program,” Ms. Coffin said. “Doug Hedwig, who started the program, was intrigued by the number of top brass musicians in the United Kingdom who got their start playing in local brass bands as children. John Wallace was one of the primary players Doug had in mind when he began his research.” St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's was the first elementary school in the United States to offer an English-style brass band.
Wallace was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2011. Short of knighthood, the CBE is the highest honor in the Order of the British Empire.