CHESTERTON | Monday will be an exciting day for Josh DeVries, a junior at Chesterton High School. That is the last day to donate to a cause that so far has raised just enough money to begin composing a piece titled “Bridge to Beijing” by award-winning composer Michael Schelle of Indianapolis. Additional funds raised will ensure travel scholarships and additional creative costs.
Josh is an accomplished cellist who plays with the Chicago Youth Symphony and Chesterton High Advanced Orchestra. He is also a four-year member of South Shore Orchestra, based in Valparaiso, and a two-time traveler to China with the community orchestra on its cultural exchange hosted by the Chinese government and the Confucius Institute of Valparaiso University.
His idea for a new piece to honor the hosts began after the concert in Quangzhou last year, where more than 250 youth and adult choristers dressed in regional costumes accompanied the orchestra in song for the New Year celebration.
“I know very few people my age who can say they have had the opportunity to tour China, and play music by Beethoven, Copland, Ives, and Schelle. I kept thinking how can we top this?" he said.
"The Chinese people have been the most enthusiastic and supportive audiences that I've ever encountered, so the piece came about as a 'thank you' gift of sorts. It is definitely a very personal project for me; the first tour was, cliche as it is, life-changing. I owe a lot to the audiences and the country, as does South Shore Orchestra, so anyway that we can give back is very exciting.”
So Josh talked with Troy Webdell, conductor and founder of SSO, along with SSO President Pete Brannen. The concept began to take shape resulting in a proposed plan. Michael Schelle accepted and helped Josh launch a Kickstarter campaign which ends Monday.
For more information about this project, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/131552828/new-music-a-bridge-to-beijing