Thursday, May 19, 2011

Good Bye, Mr. Chips. Installment No. 3

Paul D. Ulrich, Band Director
James Madison Memorial High School

Madison Memorial High School had a celebration tonight.  It was the last band concert of Paul Ulrich, the Band Director at Memorial since 1990.  For the last piece he conducted as a high school band director, Mr. Ulrich chose Benediction, composed by a friend of his, John Stevens of UW - Madison. It was a beautiful piece made all the more moving by the fact that over forty of Mr. Ulrich's former students, dating back as far as 1991, marched into the auditorium to take the stage with the Memorial Wind Ensemble to play the final piece.  The piece ended with a long standing ovation for a remarkable teacher.  There were a few dry eyes in the auditorium, but many more that weren't so dry. He was a great teacher in every sense of that remarkable title. He had kids wanting to work hard day-after-day to develop their musical skills.  He was very demanding, but very loved by all his students.

Afterwards I spent time speaking to the father of a young band member, Maria, who plays the flute in the band.  Her father said he felt very emotional at the end and that he wanted to "just keep clapping forever."  He talked about how his daughter had really developed under Mr. Ulrich:  "He really helped her technically, but he also helped her develop as a person.  He is a very kind man."  Indeed.

Thanks, Mr. Ulrich!

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