Jackson State University Director of Music Technology Dowell Taylor faces a hefty challenge: He has 48 hours to pull together Jackson Public Schools' annual All-City High School Band Festival.
The festival, Feb. 10 at Belhaven University Center for the Arts, brings together top JPS high-school band students, whom faculty members selected from a citywide audition. As the guest conductor of the concert, McDowell only has two school days to introduce performance pieces to the student and rehearse the songs. Students will rehearse 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.
"The festival is an annual gathering of all of the top-notch musicians from Jackson Public Schools, and the goal is to give them an outlet to perform a variety of literature," Dowell says.
Performance pieces include the "New York Hippadrome March," "Amazing Grace" and the "Flight of the Bumble Bee."
Dowell, a graduate of Callaway High School, cites his experience playing tuba in Powell Junior High School's marching band as the inspiration that lead to his career as a musician and teacher. Dowell, 56, attended Jackson State University where he earned his bachelor's degree and master's degree in music education. He served as the director of the JSU Sonic Boom of the South marching band from 1984 to 1992.
"I am a product of JPS, and I believe that they are considering ... different modifications to the school system since I was there in the 1970s," he says. "I think they are holding their own and doing quiet well overall. There seems to be a great emphasis on the marching band, but I am excited that there is an ongoing effort to pay as much attention to concert and symphonic bands because that is where true musicianship is developed."
When he isn't teaching, Dowell is a pianist who performs regularly with his jazz trio/quarter and 40-member Dowell Taylor Big Band.
Jackson Public Schools' annual All-City High School Music Festival is Thursday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. at Belhaven University Center for the Arts (835 Riverside Drive); free admission. Call 601-316-1791 for more information.
Please come out and show your support for some of Jackson's most talented young musicians. You will not be disappointed!
Dowell is my older brother and I am so very proud of him and his many accomplishments.