Some people only dream of performing in Carnegie Hall. It’s a dream come true for Kilgore High School junior Jacob Stone.
Stone was named a finalist in Carnegie Hall’s High School Honors Performance Series and will perform with top high school musicians from around the world on the famous stage.
Jacob’s selection as a bassist in the Association of Texas Small School Bands’ All-State Band in January was his ticket to audition for a spot in the performance series. After multiple recordings, Jacob submitted his audition tape in July and found out Oct. 31 he had been selected to perform in one of the ensembles.
Jacob’s mom, Lorri, received the email first and texted Jacob “OMG JACOB,” he said.
“She forwarded me the email, and I knew within the first sentence I was going to figure out whether or not I made it,” he said. “It said, ‘Dear Jacob Stone, Congratulations,’ and I was like, ‘Yes!’”
Lorri had to read the email twice to make sure she was reading it correctly, that her son was a finalist with the opportunity to play at Carnegie Hall.
“I think I just stood there with my mouth open for the longest time. I couldn’t believe it,” she said, calling it a “proud mama moment.”
“It was definitely a great moment of excitement for me,” Jacob said about the opportunity. “This is definitely my largest accomplishment as far as anything in music goes. It goes beyond making All-State and being able to go to San Antonio because I’ve never been to such a huge city as New York before.”
Now, Jacob and his supporters are working on getting him to New York for the experience. The program includes sightseeing around New York City and tickets to a Broadway show.
“It’s like a vacation where I get to do what I love and perform on stage at such a huge and famously known concert hall. It’s like a dream,” Jacob said.
The program, though, carries with it a cost of nearly $2,000 plus travel expenses and meals while in the city.
To help make the trip possible for Jacob, a good friend of the Stone family set up a Go Fund Me Monday. By Tuesday afternoon, the account stood at $1,575 of the $5,000 goal.
“I’m blown away by the generosity of so many members of the community, including complete strangers that are just able to so generously give,” Jacob said. “I’m in awe of it. I want to find some way to pay back to all the community members that have helped me out.”
Before the Go Fund Me, KISD orchestra director Mitch Moehring was worried money would be what kept Jacob from taking advantage of the opportunity, but now that he has seen the support generated, he no longer has those concerns and plans to travel with Jacob to New York and see him perform in Carnegie Hall.
Lorri and Moehring both saw something special in Jacob when he first started playing the bass.
When Jacob brought home the bass to practice in sixth grade, Lorri said, she expected to hear off-key screeches that sounded more like noise than music.
“He hit that first note and it was clear as a bell,” she said. “I remember I just stopped, and I just walked around the corner slowly and listened to him. I was just completely blown away. I knew then when I heard I just thought, he has got a gift. He just gave me chills just listening to him; never had a private lesson, had only been playing for six weeks.”
Moehring noticed Jacob’s work in the sixth grade beginner orchestra and the progress he was making.
Jacob went on to earn a spot in the All-Region orchestra in eighth grade and then to receive top markings at solo and ensemble competitions.
“He doesn’t just do what’s expected on a school level, he does all these extra things that are never asked or really even encouraged… It seems like just every year he pushes himself to this next level,” Moehring said.
Jacob, whose great-grandfather Jack England was band director at KHS during the 1950s and ’60s, credited Moehring for his help, calling him a mentor both as a musician and a person.
“Ever since middle school, just about every audition, we’ve always had one-on-one sessions, even if they were for 30 minutes, 20 minutes even… Every time he’s worked with me on an audition, I’ve been successful,” he said.
In addition to his success on the bass, Jacob is a member of the KHS football team and has maintained straight-A grades.
“I don’t think I’ve been more proud of a student, not just because of the Carnegie Hall thing, just him and everything that he’s done… He’s never really accepted one thing that he’s accomplished as the end result,” he said. “I hope he plays in college. I hope he plays music professionally.”
Jacob’s goal from the start of school was to make it to All-State again, and if he gets an invitation to next year’s High School Honors Performance Series, he said, he will try for the performance at Sydney Opera House.
To contribute to Jacob’s Go Fund Me account, go to https://www.gofundme.com/dc7v4u-carnegie-hall-honors-performance.