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A folk song from the small Himalayan nation of Bhutan will provide melody and meanings when Spring Oaks Middle School’s Symphonic Band premiers a special commission work on May 9 in the auditorium at the Spring Branch ISD secondary school campus.

The special work, titled Land of the Thunder Dragon, was commissioned by an anonymous donor, and written by local arranger and composer Michael Story. It will be performed at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 9, at Spring Oaks Middle School, 2150 Shadowdale.

Michael Story, a Spring Branch resident for more than three decades, has been helping young band musicians sound incredibly good in concert for decades. The music writer has composed more than 2,000 musical arrangements for band and orchestra, and Story also holds many copyrights.

“There are so many great things happening in Spring Branch,” Story said before the premier of his latest work. “Our three children all received wonderful educations at Terrace Elementary, Spring Oaks Middle and Spring Woods High School. I am thrilled to be able to work now with the Spring Oaks Middle Band.”

“For me,” he added, “working with kids is one of the highlights of being an educational writer, and it is especially gratifying to work with the Spring Oaks Middle School Band because all three of our own kids went there and were in the school band.”

The work’s title, Land of the Thunder Dragons, is a playful reminder of the Bhutanese nickname for huge thunderstorms that roar down from the Himalayan Mountains each year. The work is based on a native folk song, according to a news release.

Aaron Casillas, who is middle school band director, said the upcoming world premier represents “an amazing gift for Spring Oaks and the school district, and an incredible opportunity for the students to work with the composer and debut Land of the Thunder Dragon.”

“Having a composer as successful as Mike write a song for us is very flattering,” Casillas said. “This man writes and arranges songs that are played all over the United States and abroad. This is now our song, the Spring Oaks Band’s song.”

Band students are both excited and nervous in a good way about performing the new work.

“Having Mr. Story conduct us was very scary. I mean, what if we mess up the song he wrote?” asked Mason Nguyen rhetorically.

“It was an honor having Mr. Story write the song for us. If I ever play it again, I can say ‘That is our song,’” said Lauren Mendoza.

Band member Sydney Prier said rehearsal with the composer went well.

“It was really cool how each section of the band has its own feature that you really hear, its own distinct part,” the student said. “It’s also really cool to play a song that someone wrote specifically for us, and to get feedback on how we are playing it. 

Both Story and his wife, Iris, have been active for many years as team coaches with Odyssey of the Mind campus-based programs across the school district.

View Land of the Thunder Dragon event flyer here

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