YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown State University Wind Ensemble and Horn Choir held a special concert Saturday afternoon where they honored a long-time conductor with their performance.
It was held outside the Harrison Commons, and it was the last concert long-time conductor Stephen Gage would conduct.
Gage recently announced he would be retiring after 28 years at the university.
“I’ve really enjoyed being part of this emotionally charged group of human beings, great faculty, great university,” Gage said.
On Saturday, students with the Wind Ensemble and Horn Choir performed.
Then, to surprise Gage, former students of his joined the stage for the final song, performing “The Stars and Stripes Forever” under his lead.
They feel an everlasting impact from his work in their lives.
“He’s been a mentor to many of them and continues to have a great relationship with our alumni,” said Randall Goldberg, Dana School of Music Director.
The Director of Bands and Orchestra has conducted the YSU Dana Symphony Orchestra since 2014.
He has also conducted the music school’s annual opera production orchestra and Wind Ensemble.
Gage leaves behind a great staff committed to helping students succeed in music.
“I told them that I loved them,” Gage said. “And teachers need to be reminded of that, and that parents, all they expect from the teachers is that their children would learn. That they would grow appropriately, and that there would be the right kind of love shared with them.”
Former students shared their thoughts on the legendary conductor as well.
“He’s just been so great the last twenty-something years that I wanted to do this for him, just to show him how much I appreciate everything he’s done for me and for music education in the Valley,” said Bob Antonucci, YSU alumni.
“This is a cry day for me, and I’m proud of it,” Gage said. “You know, I don’t know what else you could want.”
Gage says, although his time at YSU is over, he will continue to conduct the Packard Band and hopes to see some of his former students there as well.