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PHS Senior plays Carnegie Hall

     Jace Martin

There is an old joke, common in American folklore, where one asks, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”  The response: “Practice.” 


Pontotoc High School Senior, Jace Martin, would agree.  On October 31st, 2017, he received an email with some exciting news.  He was one of about 700 applicants from a pool of approximately 12,000 that had been selected to be a part of the Carnegie Hall Honors Performance Series, open to rising high school musicians throughout the world.  


After hearing of the opportunity from a friend, he auditioned, but was not entirely optimistic.  “I was expecting it was going to be a blowout because that’s a lot of people auditioning,” he says.  “I wasn’t expecting to make it.”  


However, he did make it.  Being selected to play in the Honor’s Band, Martin and his family traveled to New York earlier this month to rehearse and prepare for the performance, which took place on a Sunday night.  


He describes the day of the performance, “The night of the concert, we had a soundcheck that afternoon.  All the kids that were in the band had to get on a charter bus and go to the hall.  


When we got there, we had to wait for the string orchestra to get finished with their sound check.”


Concerning the performance, he says, “Being there in that building was a cool feeling.  It’s been there since the late 1800’s.  We went downstairs to the stage after the string orchestra got finished.  All of our excitement was just built up.  We walk out there and was like, ‘Man, this is Carnegie Hall!’ ” 


Struck by the beauty of the place, he describes, “It was just beautiful.  It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen.” 


Equally impressive was the quality of sound in the building.  He describes, “The very first note that we played, the resonance of the sound, it’s just incredible!” 


Having the opportunity to play in what many consider to be the most prestigious concert hall in the world is a life-changing experience.  


He explains, “In music, it’s an up and down struggle all the time.  You have good days, and you have bad days.  If you have enough bad days, you can be pushed not to try.  I feel like being accepted into this pushed me to keep going, to never give up.  I didn’t really think I would make it, but I managed to do it.  As long as you push yourself, the sky is the limit.” 


Martin has no plans to give up on music, which has been a part of his life since first picking up a saxophone in the sixth grade.  He credits Pontotoc High School band director Richie Watson as his biggest influence.  After high school, he plans to attend Ole Miss and pursue a degree in music.


Jace Martin turned the old joke about getting to Carnegie Hall into a reality.  He practiced.  “Ever since I started practicing, I fell in love with it,” he says.  


That practice paid off.  Having the opportunity to play his saxophone on one of the world’s most renowned stages, in his own words, was “just incredible.”