|Centre football player to perform in Carnegie Hall
RELEASED: May 26, 2005
DANVILLE, KYBJ Wright might get a few curious looks occasionally as he dashes from football practice to orchestra rehearsal, but the running back and classical bassist feels the two activities complement each other well.
"Football teaches you to persevere and that's what you have to do in education," says Wright, a rising sophomore from Louisville. "Orchestra teaches me to take my mind off things and not to worry. I like that Centre has allowed me to play football and do music."
This summer Wright, a duPont Manual High School graduate, has the opportunity to showcase both of his talents. On May 28, Wright, along with the Centre football team, will take on the Great Britain Lions at Crystal Palace in London. Upon his return, he will trade his helmet and pads for a tuxedo and bow and play the bass at New York's Carnegie Hall with the Youth Performing Arts School Philharmonia. The concert, a part of the Ensemble Spotlight Series, will take place in the Isaac Stern Auditorium on June 12 at 8 p.m.
"I'm looking forward to the whole experience," he says. "I've never been to New York, and I'd like to see what the city is like. It'll be a wonderful experience. Not everyone gets to play in Carnegie Hall."
Wright says he enjoys the music because it challenges him.
Susan Lucas, visiting instructor of music at Centre, has been helping Wright prepare for the concert in June.
"BJ was a joy to work with," she says. "He's very polite and came to all his lessons. He has a lot of natural talent and can play well by ear. When he practices an excerpt, he works on it until it's perfect. He has wonderful technique and a love for the bass. The string bass is a very versatile instrument, one that can be very useful to BJ in the future. He can play in community orchestras, play with jazz ensembles, teach, or just play for enjoyment. My hope for BJ is that he'll keep up the string bass all of his adult life."
Last football season, Wright left practice early on Wednesdays so that he could practice the bass with Centre's orchestra. He says his coaches didn't mind his leaving early. "I know if I was at a Division I school, I'd have to choose between the two," Wright says. "I can do both at Centre. They always understand and I appreciate that."
Head football coach Andy Frye says Wright has an enthusiastic attitude and has worked hard to improve.
"I'm thrilled that he's involved in the football program and with music," Frye says. "At Centre you have the ability to do many things and do them well. You can be a part of intercollegiate athletics, theater, music and student leadershipBJ is a representative of what takes place here at Centre."
Centre orchestra director Steven Pederson enjoys working with Wright.
"The commitment to athletics and music is very similar, both take a lot of practice time," Pederson says. "BJ does a good job balancing he's prepared and the ideal student who's able to do both activities really well."
Wright says he's gotten used to the curious looks.
"When the subject comes up. I guess it kind of shocks and surprises people," he says. "Not many football players are in the orchestra. It doesn't seem like the two go together at all. I guess I'm just a special case."
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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