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GFPS celebrates 'Music in Our Schools Month' with original song by a pro composer

GFPS celebrates 'Music in Our Schools Month' with original song by a pro composer
Posted at 5:08 PM, Mar 19, 2024

Songwriter and composer Thomas LaVoy is here in Great Falls this week to assist high school students for their choir concert on Thursday for Music in Our Schools Month (MIOSM).

“We received a grant from the GFPS Foundation to commission a composer or to pay them to write a piece of music that's original, that's just for the CMR and Great Falls High choirs,” said Patrick Ryan, GFHS choir director. “We decided on Thomas LaVoy, who's a professional composer from Michigan.”

Dr. Lavoy has been composing and writing songs for many years and was excited to work with the high school students here to help give them a voice through their music.

“When I heard the choir sing that piece, I was so taken with their sound and I wrote to Patrick [Ryan] and we sort of had a digital friendship, and then years down the line they performed some more of my works, and then I was invited to do this commission in residency; so I wrote a new piece for them, and we're here to premiere the new work on Thursday,” LaVoy said. “The two choirs who are going to be premiering the work, we asked them a series of questions about how they felt their place in the world was and what it's like being a student now, what they think of the world in general, and we had them submit responses.”

With the students’ responses, LaVoy then turned their thoughts into a poem to create the lyrics for their song. This is a great opportunity for students to express themselves through something they are passionate about and have worked hard on.

Thomas LaVoy
Thomas LaVoy

GFPS Foundation receives funds from businesses and members in the community to go towards school projects. Stephanie Becker, executive director for GFPS Foundation, said because the community of Great Falls is so giving, projects like these are possible.

“These types of opportunities are made possible because we have community members who really love seeing these opportunities and experiences for our students and they are willing to donate to the foundation to support these types of grants,” said Becker.

Not only did the students get to a learn a new piece of music inspired by their own ideas, but they also got to learn from a professional composer who has been in the business for a long time and has experience the students can gain from.

“It’s been a special project because to have the students have their stamp on it, and while it's impossible to gather all of their thoughts into that cohesive unit at the end, I did my best and I think it's a pretty good representation of where their heads are at,” LaVoy said.

“It’s particularly special when the music is written for us, specifically for us,” Ryan said. “For the for the rest of our days, whenever anyone does this piece, it's going to say commissioned by the Great Falls High and C.M.R. High choirs. It's just a wonderful opportunity for our students.”

The concert will be held on Thursday at 7pm in the Great Falls High School old gym.

Click here to visit LaVoy's website.