SANGER — Jarrett Rasure, 17, began playing tuba in sixth grade after a teacher invited him to select a musical instrument.
“The teacher that auditioned me to try it out just said, ‘Pick whichever one you want,’ and I pretty much saw the biggest one,” he said.
The rest has become history as the Sanger High School senior sits as one of a few honored high schoolers to perform at Carnegie Hall this year.
Less than 24 hours before his departure for New York, Rasure said the anticipation for and realization of his accomplishment had been slowly rising.
Beyond the allure of Carnegie or Broadway, the tuba player has a particular itch he wants to scratch.
“The street vendors definitely sound interesting,” he said. “Pizza slice the size of your face, is that what they say?”
He departed for New York on Thursday morning, then checked into his hotel and settled in for the night. Rehearsals began Friday, and the high school performers got to see Wicked on Broadway that evening.
Saturday brought more practice time and sightseeing. Sunday is the big day, when the students playing in the High School Honors Performance Series debut their three pieces for whatever audience might attend.
The musicians are whisked back to the airport on Monday and returned to their respective corners of the world. Rasure will return to his life in Sanger, including classes, on Tuesday.
How’d he get to Carnegie?
Rasure had to get a teacher recommendation, submit an application form, fill out an autobiography of his life as a performer and send in a brief audition tape in order to be considered for the honor.
Sonny Martinez, band director at Sanger High, is no stranger to award-winning students; his band hall is lined with trophies from previous competitions. Regardless, this is the first time he’s had a student travel to play at Carnegie Hall.
“I think it’s a great honor because, you’ve got to remember, this is a lot of students throughout the United States that play in band and try to do this stuff,” Martinez said. “So to be kind of like selected as a small group of the elite, I mean, that says a lot about Jarrett and his accomplishments to do this.”
Beyond that, Rasure has an extra obstacle based solely on his instrument of choice.
“When we’re talking about a tuba player going to Carnegie Hall, we’re not talking about being one of 10,” Martinez said. “Usually an orchestra is going to have one tuba player — if that.”
The etude for tuba that was required for Rasure’s audition is a series of rising and falling eighth notes that glide across the instrument’s range, tossing in frequent, seemingly accidental key changes in hopes of testing a player’s focus.
For an additional solo, Rasure played an excerpt of Don Haddad’s Suite for Tuba, which he already had in his repertoire from the Texas State Solo & Ensemble Contest, as well as part of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.
He isn’t quite sure where he’s off to after graduation in a few short months. He plans to major in tuba performance somewhere — he has applications in at the University of North Texas and the University of Texas at Arlington for now.
Wherever he applies, his stint on the Carnegie stage is sure to pique some interest.