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Charleroi trumpeter hits all the right notes, selected for All-American Bowl

| Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, 4:14 p.m.
Charleroi senior David Young was chosen to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band on Jan. 4 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Charleroi senior David Young was chosen to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band on Jan. 4 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Charleroi senior trumpeter David Young would have been a prominent contestant on the hit television series “I've Got a Secret,” which aired from 1952 to 1967. Young knows how to keep a secret. For that matter, so does his entire family.

Young was notified in mid-August that he was one of 125 high school student musicians, out of 1,400 applicants, selected as a member of the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Marching Band, which performed at San Antonio's Alamodome during halftime of the Jan. 4 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Young was required to keep the news under his hat until All-American Bowl representatives released news of his selection at a Nov. 18 school-wide assembly at Charleroi Area High School.

According to an All-American Bowl press release, the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band recognizes the top 125 high school senior marching musicians and color guard members from across the country, showcasing their talents during the largest celebration of high school football in America. The U.S. Army is the title sponsor of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

“We were sworn to secrecy until the assembly, but it was definitely a secret worth keeping,” chuckled Young, one of 16 high school trumpet players chosen for the honor.

“An honor well-deserved,” noted Charleroi Area band director Mark Killinger, who has instructed Young since he was in middle school and been aware of his talents since Young was in elementary school.

“David is very talented musically,” Killinger said, understating the obvious. “He has always been a dedicated musician and pushed himself to get better, even as a middle-school musician. He is driven and disciplined and puts time into his music. His tone, range and technique have improved and he is more mature as a musician and has a higher range than most other students, enabling him to handle more difficult pieces. I've often asked him to play up, even when he was younger, with different ensembles. He is the first from Charleroi to achieve this recognition and distinction. This is quite an honor.”

Although Young was born into a musical family — his mother, Debra, is chorus director at Beth-Center; his father, David, played the saxophone in high school and college; and his sister, Ashley, is a trombonist with the Virginia Tech University Marching Virginians — his musical beginnings border on the unique.

Young's babysitter's son was a member of the Charleroi Area Cougars band, and Young would sit on the sidelines watching the band rehearse, Debra Young recalls, laughing. Focusing on the trumpet section and pretending to play the horn, David, a 3-year-old at the time, announced his intention of playing the trumpet. When Debra Young found a trumpet at a Charleroi yard sale, a career was born, well worth her $20 investment for the instrument.

Since then, his honors, including having been selected for District Band as well as for the PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators Association) Honors Jazz Band, have piled up.

In the pit for Charleroi Area's high school musical productions when he was in middle school, Young opted for the stage as a freshman in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” After having a “small lead” as a sophomore in “Back to the 80s,” Young took a hiatus last year, but landed the role of the Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz” this year.

Young's venture to San Antonio included visits to the Alamo and Fort Sam Houston Army base, plus an excursion along the city's famous River Walk were added highlights to his weeklong trip. Following 25 hours of pre-game rehearsal from Tuesday through Friday (prior to the Saturday High School All-American Bowl), “being in the Alamodome and striving for perfection and hearing the sounds we were able to produce was definitely the best part of the experience,” he said. “That made for a great senior year memory. They had a New Year's Eve party, and all the band members hung out together and welcomed in the new year.”

But his San Antonio experience was not the first trip for Young. As member of the Pittsburgh Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, he toured Italy and France in 2012, performing in Paris, Nice and Florence.

“It was a fabulous experience,” he said. “After our performance in Florence I just sat there and looked around and reflected on the opportunity I had, to have been able to perform in that venue. I remember thinking, ‘This is a moment I would never be able to recreate.' That's how special it was to me.”

“David is well-rounded as an individual,” Killinger added, noting that Young is a four-year member of the Cougars golf and baseball teams. Outside of school, where Young is an A-plus student, ranked sixth in his senior class, and a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council and Gifted Education program, he is nearing completion of his Eagle Scout project, in which he is in the process of restoring benches and dugouts of several local baseball fields.

With one semester remaining in high school, Young is planning to attend either the Pennsylvania State University or Indiana University of Pennsylvania to major in music education to pursue a high school or middle school teaching career.

Les Harvath is a contributing writer to Trib Total Media.