Hayden Guckenberg Sets His Sights on the Main Stage

by Mike Paulus

In February, North High School senior Hayden Guckenberg will step onto the stage at New York City’s Carnegie Hall, French horn in hand. He’ll join 750 students from around the world, selected from 18,000 applicants nominated by their music teachers. Part of the 2017 High School Honors Performance Series, Hayden will play in the Honors High School Band Ensemble – an opportunity backed up by years of hard work and performance.

Beyond playing in various groups at North, Hayden’s in the Chippewa Valley Youth Symphony and he’s performed with the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra. He practices daily for about two hours, in addition to private lessons a few nights a week. But all this time and toil is well worth it, says Hayden’s mother Jody. She explains, “Music is important. It allows a child to excel both alone and with a group. [Carnegie Hall] is a big deal, but not just for Hayden – for every student musician. Look where your hard work can take you.”

Hayden says his best memory of performing came just this year while playing with the Wisconsin State Honors Band (yes, he does that too). The music was adapted from a choral piece commissioned by his conductor, Dr. Russel Mikkelson in memory of his deceased father. Hayden says, “When we finally performed it on stage, [Mikkelson] was brought to tears and as I looked around stage the musicians were also crying, it was amazing to have a poem put to music with such a deep feeling.”

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