Road trip to Carnegie Hall

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 in Campus News and News

KU School of Music Wind Ensemble Billboard
Eighty student members of the KU Wind Ensemble are celebrating Spring Break in enviable fashion–preparing for their March 26 performance at renowned Carnegie Hall, where they will present the world premiere of a symphony commissioned especially for the ensemble.

The musicians and their director, Paul Popiel, will board a bus bright and early Friday, March 22, for their long-awaited journey. On Saturday, they will rehearse at The Ohio State University School of Music in Columbus, then pile back on the bus, arriving in New York City Sunday night. The itinerary for Monday includes a private tour of the 9/11 Memorial, which will provide poignant inspiration for their performance of  “In the Shadow of No Towers,” a symphony by New York-based composer Mohammed Fairouz that examines life in the post 9/11 world.

Fairouz, a native New Yorker, traveled to Lawrence in February to assist in rehearsals. “Mohammed spent a lot of time creating this symphony, and it was a luxury to have him here and bounce the music back and forth with him,” Popiel says. “He gave this symphony to us, and now we must grab it and own it. Our students have the rare opportunity on one of the world’s great stages to be the professionals they aspire to be now.”

The ensemble will perform at 8 p.m. March 26 in the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage of Carnegie Hall.  Alumni and friends can purchase half-price tickets for $12.50 by using the code KAN15783. To purchase, visit, call Carnegie Charge at 212.247.7800 or visit the box office in New York City. Students can purchase tickets at the box office for $5 with a valid ID.

Alumnus James Zakoura commissioned Fairouz to create the symphony especially for the KU Wind Ensemble. Zakoura has provided numerous gifts to the KU School of Music, including support for performances throughout Kansas, but  “In the Shadow of No Towers” represents an intense collaboration over many months. In September 2011, Zakoura met with Popiel and Fairouz.  “It was very emotional,” he recalls. “I basically told them my aspirations for the piece, which was that it address an important issue, and to honor the people who lost their lives and the families and the friends that survived that. I wrote a note to Paul saying, ‘These are my hopes, that this can be positive and a wholly inspiring gift from Kansas to New York and to the world.’” And Paul told me that he took my note and put it with the score and he looks at it from time to time so that he can be reminded where we’re heading and … the important work we’re doing together.”

To follow the story of the students’ journey to Carnegie and the collaboration of Popiel, Fairouz and Zakoura, visit

–Jennifer Jackson Sanner

Photo courtesy of Paul Popiel

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