Abington Heights High School rising junior Carl Maxwell Stewart is excited for the opportunity of a lifetime this summer.
The Clarks Summit resident was selected to play clarinet in The Sound of America Honor Band and Chorus. The group will perform a 23-day concert tour of six European countries. Also, a special ceremony will be presented at the Luxembourg-American World War II Military Cemetery on behalf of America’s fallen soldiers.
Stewart has been playing the instrument since sixth grade. He also plays the piano and xylophone, but is partial to the clarinet.
“I can express myself more,” he said.
He is thankful that his proficiency in music has allowed him great opportunities.
“It’s offered me the advantages of getting to go around the world,” he said. “The clarinet has taken me a lot of places.”
Stewart, 15, lived in Florida before moving to Clarks Summit last year.
He credited the early instruction from Marissa Dinnino, his music teacher in Florida, for developing his music skills.
“She started me off on the clarinet and really made me a better player,” he said.
He has worked with Cheryl Mozdian and Allison Covell during his time at Abington Heights. He believes the talent at the school has also helped him hone his skills.
“There are a lot of good clarinetists,” he said. “Competition is always great. You can learn from them and they learn from you as well.”
Stewart was overwhelmed with pride when he learned that he was chosen to represent his country in the band.
“I was in shock,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
He is most looking forward to visiting Paris, because of the city’s high fashion, and seeing the Eiffel Tower.
Stewart is anxious to perform under the direction of Clyde M. Barr, President of North American Music Festivals.
“I know I can learn a lot from him,” he said. “I know he’s not going to sugarcoat anything. It’s always good to hear criticism.”
As for career goals, Stewart hopes to continue traveling. He also hopes to qualify for a music scholarship.
“Music won’t be my whole life, but I would still like for it to be a big part of it,” he said.
The teen is inspired by the work of legendary jazz musician Miles Davis.
“His music is really laid back and creative,” Stewart said.
His mother, Tandieka, believes the advanced placement music class designed for seniors really challenged her son and helped further develop his skills.
“It improved his ability to read music and play in tune,” she said.
As a freshman in Sunrise, Fla., he performed at the Dillard Center for Performing Arts.
Stewart is the son of Carl Stewart and Tandieka McDonald.