Andover High School senior Kevin Choi is experiencing a lot of "lasts" in the coming weeks - his "last" high school jazz band concert, "last" practice, "last" homework assignment and "last" day of high school.
But he also had a first that no other student in his soon-to-be graduating class can say they also experienced. Choi, 18, composed an original song for the AHS jazz band that was performed at the group's final concert of the year Wednesday night. Choi's song "Euphoria" was performed to a crowd of more than 100 people after weeks of tireless rehearsal by the members of the band.
"It was amazing," he said of the performance. "I didn't really realize it, and then it came to my solo and I was like, 'Wow, this is my song.'"
Choi approached his jazz teacher, Jeff Buckridge, with the song in April. Since then, the band has been working to perfect the piece for concert. It wasn't until a couple nights prior to the show when they officially decided the band was confident and comfortable enough to perform the song.
Choi said he is pretty confident this is the first time the band has ever performed an original song by one of its members. However, this isn't the first time Choi has composed his own song, as he said he has been writing original songs since he was seven years old.
He wrote "Euphoria" with his private music instructor Bill Donelan, who has been teaching him for 10 years.
"Not everyone is like Kevin," said Donelan. "In fact, nobody is like Kevin."
When the pair met a decade ago, Donelan said there was something special about Choi he noticed right from the beginning. He spoke highly of Choi, and referred to him as a "prodigy" when it came to music, noting that he can play just about any instrument. Choi plays guitar in the AHS jazz band, but also plays bass and sings.
Donelan, 65, said Choi is his first student to compose an original song to be performed by the high school band. He attended the concert and said he was "blown away" by the performance from the band.
While most other seniors were writing research papers for a history or English class, Choi was completing his school assignments, with the extra weight of also writing a song. He composed "Euphoria" alongside Donelan with no inspiration in mind besides simply wanting to write a musical piece together. Choi initially came up with the chords, and Donelan then wrote a slow melody to pair with them. The two collaborated on an ending.
"I think it was just that he's been teaching me for a while and it's more than just the teaching," said Choi. "We finally came together to compose a song specifically for my high school jazz band."
Choi said the song, which is about five minutes long, was performed with no mistakes by the 22-member band. The piece also included a solo that Choi performed on the guitar.
"Most of the band liked the song so they actually put the effort toward this one," he said.
After graduation next month, Choi plans to continue pursuing his dreams of music. He will attend Middlesex Community College for a semester before transferring to the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He plans to major in either music business or music performance, and transfer to Berklee College of Music the following fall.