Former music teacher saves Christmas concert

Former music teacher Sue Yocum directs freshman Sarah Vanstory and the high school choir prior to the winter concert December 17. Yocum took over for Richard Philbrook, who was sick that day. “I was kind of worried, but I knew Mrs. Yocum was a really good teacher. I forgot words at one point in rehearsal, but I felt comfortable with her,” Vanstory said. Photo by Sean Dugger.

Music students perform despite teacher’s illness

A Christmas miracle was needed to keep the winter concert on schedule.

Richard Philbrook, the 5-12 band and choir teacher, fell ill over the weekend preceding the annual Winter Concert December 17. The students in the music program came to school that Monday planning to finalize preparations for the concert, but it was in danger of being cancelled without a director. Former elementary music teacher Sue Yocum volunteered to become the director, but only had a day to work with all of the students.

Yocum had to quickly work with students to see if holding the concert was still feasible.

No other days were available to reschedule due to the impending winter break. With only one class period to practice with the all of the students, the decision to continue without any changes to the performances was made, including performing two solos in the choir’s ‘White Christmas’ and the tempo difficult piece of the band’s ‘Three Minute Nutcracker’.

“Not knowing the tempos or the cues for the students in the pieces made it difficult,” Yocum said. “I enjoyed it, there was almost less stress than one I prepared myself.”

Behind the curtains, secretary Jeanne Parry put in a lot of work in the logistics side of the concert with things like contacting the correct people for help and making the many programs to be passed out.

“We just didn’t want to disappoint everyone who would have to travel or the seniors and their last Christmas concert,” Parry said.

Despite the illness and the inability for Philbrook to attend, the concert was performed on time and received well by the audience. “I thought it was really good, everybody played and sang their best even though Philbrook was gone,” junior Luke Stuhlsatz said.

“I was impressed, proud, and not surprised with how well the students responded,” principal Jan Hutley said.

Known for not missing any concerts before, Philbrook was disappointed to have to miss his first one due to being sick, but was proud of how the students performed.

“The concert would not have happened without the tenacity of Mrs. Perry, Mrs. Yocum, and all of the students who were willing to work with someone they hadn’t,” Philbrook said.

— Sean Dugger, @seandugger01

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