By Emily Younker
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The Joplin High School band in a segment taped Tuesday morning for Katie Couric’s syndicated talk show got to thank singer Barry Manilow for his donation of instruments after the May 2011 tornado.
Band members and Rick Castor, their director, were interviewed by Couric from the auditorium of the high school’s freshman-sophomore temporary campus via Skype, an online video-telephone program, as part of a segment for her show, “Katie.” Manilow was the show’s featured guest.
After the band lost many of its instruments, as well as marching uniforms and sheet music, in the tornado, Manilow himself presented $300,000 worth of instruments to the band in October 2011 on behalf of the Manilow Music Project. The organization’s mission is to highlight the importance of school music programs, and to donate instruments and other materials to them.
Castor said the donated instruments included six upright pianos, one grand piano, flutes, clarinets, trumpets, cornets, an oboe and a bassoon. He told Couric during the show that Manilow’s donation helped give each student an instrument, which in turn actually kept students in the band program.
Manilow said hearing of the band’s success was “very gratifying.”
“It’s good to see everybody, and I’m glad it worked,” he told Couric during the segment.
Taylor Garrett, a senior in the band, plays both the B-flat clarinet and the smaller E-flat clarinet, the latter of which was donated by Manilow.
“We actually didn’t have one before,” she said. “It’s a really good addition. It sounds different; it’s a little higher. It brings a little more diversity to the woodwind section during concert season.”
Garrett said that in the months after the tornado, she and her classmates wondered whether they would have to take a year off from band, as they had lost so much.
“In October, when he (Manilow) donated all the instruments, we kind of felt complete again,” she said.
Senior AnnaLee Cope also plays a Manilow Music Project instrument that is new to the Joplin band: a contrabass clarinet. Before the tornado, she played a contra-alto clarinet and a bass clarinet.
“This is actually a unique experience for me because we didn’t have one of these,” she said. “I’m the first one to play it. I’m really excited.”
Manilow’s donation was just one part of getting the band back on its feet after the tornado, Castor said. Hundreds of donations had poured in from across the country, from individual instruments to small cash donations.
THE EPISODE OF “KATIE” featuring the Joplin High School band is tentatively scheduled to air on Wednesday, Jan. 23.