The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 19, 2013

Donations helping JHS music programs rebuild after tornado

JOPLIN, Mo. — Building a repertoire for the Joplin School District’s orchestra program is a challenge for Kylee VanHorn.

“Every time I get on the Internet and look at the music sites, there are so many pieces I want to purchase, and I just don’t have the money,” VanHorn said. She is the orchestra director for Joplin High School, East Middle School and South Middle School.

VanHorn, like the directors of the high school band and choir, continues to rebuild her program more than two years after the 2011 tornado, which not only destroyed the high school but also the sheet music, instruments, costumes, uniforms and even risers used by those programs.

Just this week, the orchestra took another step on the path toward rebuilding when VanHorn accepted on behalf of the high school’s string program a $1,000 donation from Atalie Lebedeff and her daughter, Carla Boyer. Both are alumnae of Joplin schools. The presentation was made on Lebedeff’s behalf by Larry Sanborn, a retired music teacher in Joplin schools.

In a letter to VanHorn, Lebedeff — who moved to New York after the tornado destroyed her Joplin home — said her late husband, William, also was a music teacher in Joplin and helped build the high school’s band and orchestra programs until his retirement in 1976.

VanHorn said the donation — a gift certificate to Educational Music Service, a supplier of printed sheet music — will be used to purchase new music for the orchestra.

Some of the music that was salvaged after the tornado was moldy; much of it was written for an “advanced full symphony, and we don’t have that,” VanHorn said.

New sheet music costs an average of $40 to $70 per piece, and the orchestra typically performs eight to 10 different pieces per concert, VanHorn said.

“This will be tremendous,” she said of Lebedeff’s donation.

VanHorn said she will look specifically for “new, fun material” to keep her students engaged in music and to help build up the program, which is expected to enroll 60 to 80 students next year at the high school level.

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