A tribute with resonance
The final notes of ‘Taps’ that sounded sonorous and full from Taylor Ensminger’s French horn were met with awed silence by spectators huddled under umbrellas Monday afternoon.
Then, the group that clustered on a rain-soaked lawn broke into grateful applause for a performance that made Memorial Day special — even as continued efforts to combat COVID-19 forced Peabody to cancel its services.
“It’s wonderful. I am so glad she did it,” Sharon Pickens said as droplets pinged on her bright red umbrella. “I wish the weather would cooperate a little more, but you know what. It touched the heart.”
Ensminger, a Peabody-Burns High School alumna, and sophomore Alex Young joined thousands of musicians who took part in “Taps Across America” by playing on their front porches at 3 p.m. Monday.
Most of Marion County’s cities canceled annual observations that would gather groups of more than 10.
“Taps Across America” was a way to remember fallen service members and victims of COVID-19 while maintaining social distancing.
Ensminger, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in horn performance from the University of Kansas and the University of Oklahoma, has coached music students — both in Norman, Oklahoma, and in Peabody after she moved back home to be near her family.
A relative of one of her more recent students told her about “Taps Across America.”
“Her grandma came in to the grocery store where I work and asked me about it,” Ensminger said.
She also had veterans in her family whom she wanted to honor, notably her uncle, who retired from the Air National Guard.
Young, who plays trombone in pep band at Peabody-Burns High, learned of Ensminger’s participation and asked whether he could join her on his brother’s trumpet.
“Trombone got a little easy for me. I decided to try and conquer another instrument,” he said.
Their horns sounded warm and bright at 3:30 p.m. as they traded verses from opposite sides of Walnut St. Couples smiled as they recorded video on their smartphones.
Ensminger has been asked to perform in patriotic musical exhibitions before.
In 2013, she and 68 other students in the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble premiered Mohammed Fairouz’s 9/11 memorial piece “In the Shadow of No Towers” at Cargnegie Hall.
Since then, she achieved her goal of earning a master’s in music, but still has her heart set on performing with a symphony.
She has auditioned with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and would be happy playing either with the Newton Mid-Kansas or Wichita Symphony Orchestras.
“Right now everything is closed,” she said.
Shreves and Mary Avery spoke very highly of Ensminger as a music teacher. Their eldest granddaughter takes French horn lessons from her and did well in a recent contest.
“ ‘She got a I this year!” Mary Avery shouted to Ensminger from the slick grass in the Ensminger’s front yard.
“Oh, sweet!” Ensminger said, waving to the Averys from the porch.
Avery pocketed her smartphone to protect it from drizzle and hailed Young.
“It was very good, Alex, thank you,” she said. “Excellent. It just makes this day special.”
Last modified May 27, 2020