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WCCC band, choir honor music director Booker

| Thursday, May 14, 2015, 3:23 p.m.
Westmoreland County Community College’s director of music Roderick Todd Booker was honored by the college’s Symphonic Band and Community Choir at their spring concert held April 25 at the college’s Youngwood campus.

Westmoreland County Community College's Director of Music Rod Booker was honored by the college's Symphonic Band and Community Choir at their recent spring concert on the campus near Youngwood.

For the recognition, an original composition was written by composer Roy Mitchell of Erie to depict Booker's life in music and to be played by the band.

At the conclusion of the concert, Booker was asked to take a seat in the audience by clarinet player Dan Orange as Mitchell came to the stage to describe the composition and direct its debut performance by the band.

The composition included snippets of spiritual songs Booker had heard as a boy during his walks to church while visiting his grandparents in the South. Also integrated into the score were portions of the alma maters of the colleges he attended, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State University.

Mitchell named the composition “Mine for Life,” borrowing a phrase the music educator frequently uses when speaking of his students.

“Once they have played for me, they are mine for life,” Booker says.

Several members of the symphonic band led the effort to recognize Booker for his many contributions to community music groups and building the music program at WCCC, which now includes the Community Choir, Symphonic Band, Full Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra and Stage Band.

The organizers solicited a grant from the WCCC Educational Foundation and donations from the band and choir members to pay for the composer's commission and kept the plans secret from their director.

“I am deeply touched by the composition ‘Mine for Life,' Booker said. “I have been saying that for 43 years and never thought I would hear it musically. My grandparents are smiling down from heaven.”