November 4, 2021
Rutherford County Schools
Two Rutherford County Schools alumni are set to perform with the Nashville Symphony in an upcoming concert titled, “Next Generation of Classical Musicians.”
Aalia Hanif (Central Magnet School, Class of 2019) will perform Borne’s Fantaisie Brillante from Bizet’s Carmen on Flute, and Bernard Ekwuazi (Blackman High School, Class of 2020) will perform Larsson’s Concertino for Trombone and String Orchestra.
Hanif, who is currently a junior majoring in music at Northwestern University, took some time out of her busy schedule to talk about the upcoming performance. She said she is looking forward to returning to the Nashville area to make her solo debut with the first orchestra she ever heard.
Hanif began playing piano at age 5 but did not like to practice that instrument. She later found her true musical love in the flute. Hanif knew she wanted to pursue music as a career because, she said, “music was the thing that made me excited. It’s what made me happy.”
Hanif credited her band teachers at Central Magnet School with helping her achieve her musical goals. “Mr. Mears and Mr. Click were not only some of the greatest teachers, but also helped me through everything and gave me so much support,” she said.
One of Hanif’s band directors from Central Magnet School, John Mears, recalled her dedication and talent.
“She was the kind of student who was in a practice room before school started, and in a practice room again after school,” Mears said. He also remembered how Hanif gave back with her talent by giving lessons to younger flute students in the band program.
Mears said that Hanif always worked to a “high degree” and always wanted to go the extra mile in her musical studies.
As a sophomore in high school, she became one of the first students to be accepted into the Nashville Symphony’s Accelerando program, an initiative designed to prepare students from diverse backgrounds for careers as orchestra musicians. As an Accelerando student, she took flute lessons from Nashville Symphony flutist, Leslie Fagan, and attended masterclasses.
Hanif explained she is nervous but excited for her debut performance with the Nashville Symphony. She said, “the Nashville Symphony has been a backbone of my development; I have always dreamed of playing on that stage.”
Hanif gave some advice for younger musicians hoping to pursue a career in music: “Try to expose yourself to as many musical outlets as you can,” she said. “Practice - but also remember at the end of the day that you’re still a person. Find yourself in a community of musicians.”
Ekwuazi, who also participated in the symphony’s Accelerando program while in high school, is currently in his second year studying trombone performance at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
Hanif and Ekwuazi will perform with the Nashville Symphony on Nov. 4-6.
Additional information about the performance and ticket sales can be found here: https://www.nashvillesymphony.org/