On Monday, April 8, the Southern New Hampshire University Wind Symphony put on a memorial concert to honor the late Phil Martin.
Martin, who passed away in the summer of 2018, spent decades as an active member of the local music education programs at both SNHU and as a teacher in the public school system. When he retired from the public school system in 2017, he became the Coordinator of Music Education. ‘Uncle Phil,’ as his students compassionately named him, was always a kind, funny and supportive role model for the students that he had the pleasure of teaching.
The program from the night started off with a beautiful piece by Percy Grainger which was Phil’s favorite. His son, Ken Martin, was the guest conductor for this piece. During his introduction, he made it clear to everyone that although this memorial was exceptionally sad, his father would want the night to be a happy occasion if he was here.
After the Grainger piece, two of Phil’s former students, Cole Gallagher (’20) and Hailey Maxwell (’20), took to the stage to say some words of remembrance about their late mentor. From their speech, it was clear that Phil shone a bright light into his students’ lives in the short time he was their mentor and that his good nature and quick wit was beloved.
Next, the wind symphony performed Symphony No.2 by James Stephenson. In the excerpt describing the piece, it was stated that the author wrote it in memorial for his own mother. He wrote of the struggles he faced composing and grieving and how creating this piece helped him “finally come to terms with the loss of” his mother. The power of his music was healing to him as well as being a tangible way to keep the essence of “her alive in” his heart. Although the piece was sad in nature, it was also a message of hope as the music education program continues to grieve the loss of their beloved faculty member.
Lastly, Rick Cook, the director of the Wind Symphony led the musicians into their final piece, Americans We, by Henry Fillmore. This piece was of a brighter quality and the perfect finale as those in attendance remembered the light that was Phil Martin’s spirit.