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Trumpet symbolizing school shooting coming to 'Oklahoma!' in Cedar Rapids

UI student will play black trumpet made of bullets on local stage

Bryan Powell of Iowa City, a doctoral student of the University of Iowa, plays a trumpet Tuesday from the Instrument of Hope project during a technical rehearsal for the Revival Theatre Company’s production of “Oklahoma!” at Sinclair Auditorium at Coe College. The trumpet, provided by Shine MSD, is partially made from brass shell casings cut up and pieced together. The organization, made up of Parkland students and their parents whose mission is to promote healing through the arts, sends the instrument touring the country. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Bryan Powell of Iowa City, a doctoral student of the University of Iowa, plays a trumpet Tuesday from the Instrument of Hope project during a technical rehearsal for the Revival Theatre Company’s production of “Oklahoma!” at Sinclair Auditorium at Coe College. The trumpet, provided by Shine MSD, is partially made from brass shell casings cut up and pieced together. The organization, made up of Parkland students and their parents whose mission is to promote healing through the arts, sends the instrument touring the country. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Out of unspeakable horror has come mellow tones for healing, unity and remembering in the form of a trumpet.

Dubbed the “Instrument of Hope,” it was created in part from spent bullet casings like those used in the Feb. 14, 2018, mass shooting that killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

And now the instrument has come to Cedar Rapids to be played at the end of Revival Theatre Company’s production of “Oklahoma!” Thursday to Saturday in Sinclair Auditorium at Coe College. Audience members also will be able to see the black trumpet with its gleaming brass bullet parts on display in the lobby afterward.

In the wake of the shooting, Stoneman Douglas drama students Sawyer Garrity and Andrea Pena turned to painting, then voiced their pain and anger through music, writing the song “Shine.” The ripple effect led to an offer to record the song in a professional studio, as well as the creation of the Shine MSD nonprofit to raise funds for the Parkland victims and their families, and to provide mental health programs through the arts.

Master brass technician Josh Landress of New York agreed to make the trumpet, which began its tour Feb. 19 in Oakland, Calif. Since then, it has been played by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy; by Glen Friedman, performing the national anthem April 3 before the Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics basketball game; and by Amos Lee at the Met Philadelphia concert venue.

And on Broadway during the Tony-winning production “Oklahoma!”

That piqued the interest of Brian Glick, artistic director for Revival Theatre’s local production of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical.

When the video popped up again in his newsfeed a week ago, Glick sprang into action. He found the “request the trumpet” link online at Instrumentofhope.org, stated his intentions, received an immediate reply and by the end of the day was on a conference call with tour coordinator Kim Scharnberg — a Cedar Rapids native and Kennedy High School graduate — and Miguel Pena, “Shine” songwriter Andrea Pena’s father.

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During the conversation, Pena said he looked 25 years ago at working for General Mills in Cedar Rapids, but said Iowa was too cold so he headed for Florida.

“It was serendipity,” Glick said of those Cedar Rapids connections.

The trumpet arrived Tuesday and is being kept in the vault at Ginsberg Jewelers, under the auspices of Steven Ginsberg, who serves on the Revival Theatre board. The instrument will travel next to Boston, slated for a Mannheim Steamroller concert.

Brian Powell, a doctoral student at the University of Iowa, will play the instrument after the bows at each local “Oklahoma!” performance. He used it for the first time at Tuesday’s rehearsal.

“It plays fantastically,” he said. “I was a little bit nervous about it going in, but it plays really well. It’s really smooth. It’s really kind of powerful and profound to play — just knowing the history behind it, where it’s been and what the meaning is behind it.”

He and the orchestra will perform a languid version of “Out of My Dreams,” from the ballet segment at the end of Act I. That was the song played by the Broadway orchestra, too.

“The lyric, ‘out of my dreams,’ has sort of this out-of-body experience, and it has such a beautiful melody,” Glick said, which makes it a “really good choice” for spotlighting the instrument.

Comments: (319) 368-8508; diana.nollen@thegazette.com

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