Powerful, brassy and full – harmonious sounds drift through the practice space.
Seven performers stand together, dependent on one another to produce the emotive rise and fall of the melody and harmony.
For one of the seven musicians in this French horn ensemble, this practice is not just business as usual. For Hanna, this is a wish come true.
A Passion for Music
Day after day and for hours at a time, Hanna learns new music and practices with her class. When she’s not busy with band, she paints, draws and works hard in her core classes. Like many teens, Hanna faces a hectic high school schedule. But unlike her peers, she also has to devote her time and energy to treatments for a life-threatening medical condition.
Whenever Hanna needs a break from stress, she puts on her headphones and disappears. Her music of choice? Recordings by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra – one of the greatest orchestras in the world. She knew she wanted her one true wish to involve the CSO. Ambition told her to set her sights high – to not only attend a performance and meet the musicians, but to play with them.
(from left: Oto Carrillo, David Griffin, Hanna, Dan Gingrich, Jim Smelser, Dale Clevenger and Susanna Gaunt.)
Playing with Real Musicians
Hanna is a bit nervous, but prepared. Her nerves dissipate as the members of the CSO's world-renowned French horn section welcome her to Chicago. It’s a rare chance to be part of a Make-A-Wish experience, and they treat Hanna like any other high-level guest musician.
She summons her strength and talent, takes a deep breath and joins in – I can’t believe I’m playing with real musicians! The notes glide along, and the others nod with approval.
An audience of two captures the practice with photograph, video and memory. Through the lenses, Hanna’s parents see an impact, a transformation in their daughter. They detect a sense of joy and pride. This experience isn’t just something to make her feel better about her illness – instead it is an opportunity to showcase her skills and unlock ambitions for the future.
Now, Hanna plans to hit all the right notes – become a drum major in her junior year and attend a university with a prestigious music program. The wish experience empowered Hanna, and confirmed that a career in music is within reach. She realizes all she is capable of, and all she can become.
Hanna's family uploaded this video clip from the rehearsals to YouTube: