A student in the Berne High School band plays at Carnegie Hall | The kids who make South Africa great

Connor West may have recorded three solos at Carnegie Hall, but that means nothing to him without those who supported his journey in Bern.

BERN, Texas. Carnegie Hall, according to Connor West, is his most rewarding performance. But the Bern High School senior said he didn’t go on this journey alone.

“It seemed very difficult. And I remember learning the first couple of positions,” Connor said.

In the sixth grade, he picked up a trombone. According to the young musician, last year he was inspired by a music teacher.


By the seventh grade, “Bertha” had entered his life. The two are an award-winning duo; Berta is the name he gave to his trombone.

She is brash and demands attention to get what he wants from her.

“Getting up and playing when it’s not required was the most important thing I learned,” he said.

Connor’s parents, Jason and Jennifer West, have no musical education. But he understood the value of hard work and its results.

“There was no moment, right. Epiphany. Here he is. He’s great. I mean, it’s just one of those things that keeps working and keeps evolving. And over time, it just rises to the top like cream.”

Connor took private lessons and even developed a fruitful relationship with Berne High School Orchestra conductor Daniel Person.

“The love for music and making music and the camaraderie is the most important thing we have,” Person said.

According to Person, he cannot be held responsible for the motivation and music that comes from Connor’s trombone. He admits that he gave instructions to his student of the group, but the rest, according to him, is Connor.

“Less than 1% of children in the state of Texas – even less than two years in a row. And then, of course, you add to his trip to New York. It’s huge,” Person said.

Person played at Carnegie Hall as a band student, but not in the same way as Connor. Teen Berne and his family have learned that he has been a finalist in the 2023 New York Performance Series of Excellence. The series brings together the best musicians from around the world to perform in places like New York and Sydney, Australia.

“This is one of the hardest pieces of music I’ve ever played,” Connor said.

He and Bertha made a formidable team. Connor took first place and played three solos with the ensemble.

“Frankly, that was my source of boasting. I think all my friends are tired of hearing that,” West said. “I mean, this is Carnegie Hall, right?”

The performance was in February, but the memories are still associated with the Wests and Boerne High. Connor said it was only possible with the high school teachers, the group director and the parents.

“It was impressive,” Connor said.

New York and its flourishing future continue to work for him, Berta and their supporting ensemble.

“I love the trombone,” he said. “It’s the best tool out of all the other tools.”

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