Lee’s Summit conductor, students head to New York City to play Carnegie Hall

tporter@lsjournal.comJune 18, 2014 

The playful exchange between Robert Bruce and his father Barry was one for the ages.

Robert, a 14-year-old soon-to-be freshman, and Barry couldn’t come to an agreement if Robert really wanted his parents to join him on a trip to New York City of if the elder Bruce and his wife, Beth, forced themselves upon their child.

The two were joking of course – Robert insisted his father wanted to come with or without his approval, while Barry claimed his son invited the parents along – but its no laughing matter when you are one of a small group of middle school-aged children from throughout the world to converge June 25-29 on Carnegie Hall as part of the Middle School Honors Performance Series.

“I think all of my skills since fourth grade have led up to this,” said Robert Bruce, who plays the viola. “A total of about four to five months of training and practicing on one piece has helped me to get better.”

Robert Bruce will be joined onstage by Anahi Casas-Perez, a former classmate at Pleasant Lea Middle School.

The two were selected by audition to perform with the National Middle School Honors Orchestra. Rehearsals run throughout the week at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City with the performance taking place June 28 at Carnegie Hall.

“We’re friends and we’ve been in the same class since fourth-grade,” Robert Bruce said of his friendship with Casas-Perez, who was unavailable for comment prior to the Journal going to press June 17. “She’s really amazing.”

The former classmates were chosen based on recorded auditions from hundreds of nominated middle-school applicants from throughout the United States as well as some international applicants.

“She is really good,” Barry Bruce said of Casas-Perez. “She could be like a concert master in the symphony. She’s that good.”

Kirt Mosier, a world-renowned conductor and director of orchestras at Lee’s Summit West High School, is one of three conductors at the Middle School Honors Performance Series.

“I do a lot of conducting around the United States,” Mosier said on how he obtained the gig. “I’m a composer and because of that I go conduct honor groups. A (colleague) is conducting the band at Carnegie Hall and he told them to hire me to conduct the orchestra. It’s going to be the top of the top. I listened to the auditions nationwide and they’re spectacular. They’re super. This orchestra is going to be out of this world.”

Mosier and his family will mix the business trip with pleasure. Conducting at Carnegie Hall for only the third time, Mosier said that he might as well take the family along for fun.

“The players come in next Wednesday (June 24) and they will be there thru Sunday (June 29),” he said. “I’m actually going to take my family. Instead of making money I’m just going to blow it all on taking the family to New York but at least we’ll break even. We’ll be there from Sunday (June 22) to Sunday (June 29).”

Robert Bruce said he intends to hang out with his friend, Casas-Perez, but looks forward to taking in the Broadway musical “Wicked” as well. If he can shake loose of his parents he will, but for the most part he’s glad that they will be in New York to share in the moment.

“I’m actually really excited,” Robert Bruce said. “I never thought I would be able to (play Carnegie Hall). This is an international orchestra basically. People from all around the nation plus a few people from China, Korea and Guam as well will be there.”

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