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SCHS grad writes symphony

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By Whitney Harrod

Move over, Mr. Holland. Berry Sharp may be creating his own opus.

Sharp, who graduated from Shelby County High School last month, composed a six-part symphony called "Atlantis." "Atlas," the third movement of the symphony, was performed by the Shelby County High School concert band and orchestra at the annual band concert in May.

"Atlas" was written and composed with the aid of a music notation program called Finale. Sharp said he wrote the piece in one weekend when his "epiphany moments" came together.

"I have fulfilled my first goal in life," Sharp said. "I got to both compose and conduct my first fully finished piece."

Sharp presented the piece to his band director in February, with the idea for the band to eventually perform "Atlas."

"I brought it in on Monday and had Mr. Ellis listen to it and he liked it. Then he asked me to arrange it for concert band," Sharp said. "I took it home, got it ready and tweaked it."

Sharp said no student at his high school had ever composed a piece, played it and taken a step further to conduct it. Sharp's piece is rated a four out of six on the level of difficulty.

As a tuba player, Sharp has been involved in band for more than eight years. He began composing music in seventh grade.

"Over the years I've come in with various pieces for my band director to listen to, but they never were quite done," Sharp said. "It wasn't until last year I developed my sense of style where I know what's good and not good to listen to."

Sharp chose to center the theme for the symphony around "Atlantis" because he is interested in Greek mythology. He said he learned to conduct music by watching the hand and arm movements of conductors at concerts.

Sharp wants to eventually publish "Atlantis."

"I don't know where to go right now with it, but I know it's difficult for an amateur composer to make it," Sharp said.

Another piece Sharp has written is called "Suite de Espaa." The seven-minute long piece is a four-movement dance that combines Spanish and Mediterranean influences.

"I'm also writing a symphonic tone poem, which is an expression of a nationalistic idea or some sort of story in music," Sharp said. "I love the ocean, so this one is about the ocean with the beginning having low brass chords and pedal tones."

Sharp will attend Murray State University in the fall. He wants to become a music teacher and pursue the field of film scoring.