The Norman Transcript

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February 6, 2013

Young trombonist hits high note

NORMAN — Music consumes nearly every waking moment of Dillon Downey’s world.

But this Norman North High School senior wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s a passion that is taking the 17-year-old trombonist all the way to Carnegie Hall in New York City this weekend for a performance with the American High School Honors Performance Series Orchestra. Downey is performing as the first chair to an already sold-out audience 8 p.m. Sunday.

“I’ve thought about being an engineer or being a doctor or a lawyer, or something like that, that could typically make much more money than a musician,” he said, “but music is my life. I’m so passionate about it, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I’d be lost without music.”

Downey, son of Alfred and Debbie Downey, is performing with other elite high school musicians around the country, Canada and select international schools, under the direction of renowned conductors Dr. Eph Ehly, Jeffrey Grogan, Sharon Lavery and H. Robert Reynolds.

The students were asked to rehearse a set repertoire before arriving for the five-day-long program, including “Nabucco Overture Finale” by Giuseppe Verdi, Dimitri Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 5” (fourth movement), and “Dusk” by Steven Bryant.

Downey participated in the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute orchestra under the direction of Grogan. He recommended that Downey audition to participate in the program.

Downey didn’t need much more prompting. He is now excited to learn from both the experienced and inexperienced musicians he will be joining.

Performing in Carnegie Hall is a significant musician milestone not missed on the young talent. Grogan described the experience as a pinnacle experience for any musician.

“I’ve conducted this group before at Carnegie Hall, and it’s some of the best kids in the U.S. They come from all over, so everyone in that group is top notch, very serious and hard-working,” Grogan said. “You put a group of kids like that together and it’s pretty amazing what they can do in three days.”

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