Posted by Steve Lettau on Jun 01, 2017

By Ty Schmidt

MEQUON - Countless hours of prep work and practice have been happening for months behind the scenes at Homestead High School.

And while all that hard work and dedication has certainly prepared them for their concert Thursday, May 18, a special Skype conversation on May 11 sealed the deal.

Academy Award-nominated composer Marco Beltrami, of “5:10 to Yuma” and “The Hurt Locker” fame, Skyped with about 100 students to discuss his experiences as a major Hollywood composer and specifically his work on the 2016 film “Gods of Egypt.”

“I was happily surprised to receive an email a few weeks ago from (John Emanuelson) mentioning that his school orchestra would be performing a couple pieces from the slightly obscure movie

‘Gods of Egypt,’” Beltrami said. “I am excited to hear that the music lives on outside of the movie and was pleased to meet via Skype some of the members of the orchestra.”

Beltrami said he was impressed with the questions the students asked and how prepared they were for their conversation.

“In these days of budget cuts and de-emphasis of non-academic programs, (Emanuelson) should be very proud of the evidently big role music takes (at Homestead) and know that you are our future,” Beltrami said.

There was an electric energy in the room as Beltrami spoke briefly with the students and then answered their questions for the better part of an hour.

“It was a very enlightening experience, especially since Beltrami has composed the music for many of my favorite movies,” said sophomore viola player Kaylee Norris. “His answers to our questions were elaborate and precise. I’m grateful to have met Mr. Beltrami.”

“It was really cool to hear first-hand from a composer how the whole process is done, and about his thoughts about music in general,” added junior Becky Daubert, who plays the violin. “It meant a lot that he took time out of his day to talk to us, and that he even took an interest in us in the first place.”

The opportunity was a special one for Emanuelson, director of orchestras at Homestead.

“It is very unusual for orchestra musicians to engage directly with composers, because very typically, they are no longer living,” Emanuelson said. “Further, high school musicians do not generally capture the attention of living composers, so we are very excited and eager to have this opportunity to ‘meet’ Mr. Beltrami and discuss his work, creative process, and accomplishments in the week before our first-ever live performance of this music.”