JMU News

Saxophone students surprise professor with pop-up concert


SUMMARY: Professor David Pope recalls an evening when his saxophone students showed up on his front lawn to present a short concert featuring a selection of some of his favorite music.

By David Pope, professor of music

It was after dinner and I was in the kitchen, reviewing video submissions by members of the saxophone studio at JMU. My wife called out, “There are saxophonists in our yard!” I’ve been on the faculty for over 20 years, and THAT has never happened.

I went out to my front porch to find that 14 of my students were assembled on my front lawn (socially distanced, in masks, and grouped in social “pods” that have regular contact, roommates, etc.). They proceeded to present a short concert from a collection of baroque and classical music that I have been using since I was an undergraduate, 30 years ago. The music is a part of my DNA at this point. At several points in the music, I stepped out into the yard to conduct.

I have been entirely online since March, so this was the first live music that I have heard in six months, and the very first time that I got to hear most of my 2020-21 class of saxophonists in-person. I sat on the front stoop and held in my tears as my wonderful doctoral student, Anthony Cincotta, led the ensemble. It was absolutely overwhelming. Although not all the students could be present, this is the largest studio that I have recruited in all my years at JMU. To not be with them on campus is painful, to say the least.

My neighbors came out into their yards to listen. Between pieces, applause rang out from the surrounding houses. Our little audience ranged in age from a second grader to long retired neighborhood elders. It was a beautiful reminder of how connected we are, even in these difficult times. I don’t have words for how humbled I was to have my students share their artistry and passion with my family and friends.

No matter how challenging 2020 has been, I will never forget this beautiful evening when my students showed their love for their community, for their craft, and for their mentor. I have the career of my dreams. Go Dukes!


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Published: Monday, October 12, 2020

Last Updated: Monday, October 12, 2020

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