Feb 11, 2016
Batavia music teacher Jane Haggett recalls the time years ago when her student, Ross Chua, came barrelling into a performance, still dressed in his Tae Kwon Do uniform.
He grabbed his trumpet and, still in uniform, belted out a number for a âMusic in Our Schoolsâ program.
âThatâs part of the reason why Ross is the way he is,â she said. âHe has strong support from his family, taking him to different activities, and he has a passion for whatever he does.â
Ross is 17 now, far removed from that performance about seven years ago.
He is a senior at Batavia High School and still maintains that passion for music.
Last week, he sat in a chair in the band room at school, a room full of musicians from the Genesee Symphony Orchestra.
This time, though, Ross was not performing. He was watching and listening and smiling.
Ross became the first student in Haggettâs 26 years as a teacher to compose an original symphony piece, tentatively titled âSpectacle in Flight.â
âHe took my music theory class and I knew something was there,â Haggett said. âHe understood theory and how music is written. It interested him.â
Ross wants to major in music composition in college and has to submit original compositions as part of the application process.
The GSO agreed to perform and record the piece, which was done last week and is one of three Ross has written in the past year.
The other two were shorter compositions. âSpectacle in Flightâ chimes in at about seven minutes, with six movements.
Why the title?
âWhen itâs in my head, I feel itâs something to marvel at,â Ross says. âItâs like when I look at something marvelous. I wanted that spectacle. Then thereâs the flying part. Thereâs been a lot of bird symbolism in my life.â
His aunt died last year. Her favorite song was âFree Bird.â
His mother, Allison Chua, chose songs for her children when they were born. Rossâs song?
âClose to Youâ by the Carpenters, with itâs catchy verse âWhy do birds suddenly appear?â
The last two plays Ross will be a part of at school are
âPeter and Wendyâ and âMary Poppins.â
âSpectacle in Flightâ hopes to capture that spirit of soaring majestically through the air.
It wasnât an easy process.
Ross began writing his composition last summer. He finished two movements, set it aside, and went about his life, a busy one at that.
Then, during winter break, he got inspired, with help from another aunt and music teacher Sean Williams.
âIâve been working with Ross for four years with Batavia Trumpet Ensemble,â Williams said. This year weâve been honing his composing talents by taking part and reassembling musical motifs in his composition and coming up with new ways to look at musical ideas.â
The result was four more movements and a finished composition.
âIn my 30 years in music, Ross is by far the quickest and most prolific young composer Iâve worked with,â Wiliams said. âIâm very proud with the work heâs done and look forward to bigger and better things in the future.â
Needless to say, his family is proud, too.
âEven as an infant, Ross created music in his crib, humming all the time,â Allison Chua says. âI believe whole-heartedly that Rossâ talents were God-given.â
Ross lives with his parents on Trumbull Parkway. His dad is Dave Chua, a financial advisor.
Both were in attendance for the recording session, which featured the full GSO with guest conductor Nicholas DelBello of Buffalo.
For Ross, watching his piece come to life was exhilarating.
âI love to perform but to watch them to do it was incredible,â he said. âMy idea of a music career is not to play but to write. The GSO had my composition for about a week but they are so professional and they picked it up quickly. It was a brilliant sound. My job was just to follow the score and explain and answer questions.â
Ross is hoping to attend Ithaca State College but also has applied to Fredonia and Syracuse.
While music composition is limited as far as jobs, Ross does see a number of areas where he can use such a degree, including scoring films and Broadway productions or creating original pieces for orchestras.
Thereâs not much doubt among his family, friends and teachers that Ross could do anything he puts his mind to.
Heâs a top 10 student, assistant director of the Drama Club, band president, he works at Habitat for Humanity and is a member of the choir at Northgate Methodist Church and an active participant in the Hugh OâBrian Youth Leadership program. He also plays tennis and was a top member of the champion Scholastic Bowl Team that was the first Batavia team to go to nationals ion Washington.
Despite his many accomplishments, Ross, as Haggett explained, is âhumble.â
âThatâs one of the best things about Ross is that heâs humble,â she said. âThat will work for him down the road. Heâs definitely going to have success.â
Humble and thankful. The last thing Ross added during an interview was to thank everyone who has helped him, from his many music teachers and, especially, his family.
âThey were all so supportive,â he said. âMy family was the first to hear my piece. They gave me advice and encouraged me.â
by Scott Desmit, The Daily News (2/6/2016)
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