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Concert features march written by Homer Junior High 8th grader Kenny Kriha

News Release

Homer CCSD 33C

Goodings Grove   Luther J. Schilling   William E. Young   William J. Butler

Hadley Middle   Homer Jr. High

Homer Junior High School eighth-grader Kenny Kriha shares his process for writing “Variations on the Variant of a March.”

Contact: Charla Brautigam, Communications/Public Relations Manager

cbrautigam@homerschools.org | 708-226-7628


Kenny Kriha performing the piece he composed.


For Immediate Release:

May 20, 2016


Concert features march written by Homer Junior High 8th grader

The Homer Junior High School Symphonic Band performing Kenny Kriha’s “Variations on the Variant of a March.”

For years, 14-year-old Kenny Kriha has practiced and performed music written by others.


That all changed May 18 when the Homer Junior High School eighth grader debuted a piece he wrote for the school’s Symphonic Band.


“Ever since I can remember, I have loved music,” said Kenny, who wrote the two-minute march after being challenged to do so by music teacher Jason Thompson, co-director of bands at Homer Junior High.


The challenge was issued in December when students were preparing for the school’s holiday concert.


“Kenny had always been making comments about the pieces the band was playing,” said Thompson. “He would give his ideas about how to make the piece better both musically and aesthetically (horn flashes, etc.).


“So, one day, rather off the cuff, I told him I was giving him an `assignment,’” Thompson continued. “I told him to write his own piece for the band to play so he could include any ideas that he wants.”


To Thompson’s surprise, Kenny came back with a three movement opus.


“I was certainly not expecting that,” he said. “After some discussion, Kenny decided to just work on the first movement to have something ready for the band to play at the final concert. After he made all of the necessary changes the band began working on it in rehearsal to prepare it for its `World Premiere.’”


The final product was revealed at the school’s final concert of the year on May 18. It was met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation.


A few audience members even asked for the composer’s autograph.


“That was interesting,” said Kenny.


The talented musician began writing the march by forming the melody first and then “elaborating” upon it by grouping sections — saxophone, tuba, bass clarinet and bassoon in one section; flute and oboe in another; and French horn and alto sax in a third.


He learned to write from the bottom up, concentrating on the low notes (or bass) first and working up to the high notes so that the chords agreed.


It was the first time Kenny had ever written music for a full band. He had once written a duet for saxophones, but never something for every instrument.


“I am pretty amazed at the final result,” said Thompson. “Writing for a band with all the different instruments in different keys and clefs is not an easy thing.”


The music prodigy picked up his first instrument at age 5 when his parents gave him a drum set for enduring a painful tonsillectomy.


Pretty soon, he was searching percussion websites for sand blocks, castanets and guiros (a Latin American percussion instrument) and asking his parents for a mandolin and accordion for Christmas.


“He really started getting into music with his fourth-grade music teacher, Mrs. (Rebecca) Worley,” recalled Kenny’s mother, Laura Kriha. “She introduced him to the recorder, and from there, he never looked back.”


As a fifth-grader, Kenny began playing the alto sax. He has since added three more instruments to his repertoire — the tenor sax for marching band, the bassoon for concert band and the tenor drums for fun.


He continues to play the alto sax for jazz band.


It was the jazzy sound of the saxophone that first drew Kenny to the instrument.


“Jazz is very expressive,” he said, “and I like to express myself through music.”


The teenager knows music will always be a part of his life. He plans to become a band director one day — just like Thompson and co-director Jason Skube.


Directors have “complete power” over the music, said Kenny, and help others grow musically.


His teachers say they expect great things from Kenny.

Kenny Kriha with co-directors Jason Thompson and Jason Skube at the premiere of his piece “Variations on the Variant of a March.”

“(His) determination is beyond admirable,” said Skube, who has always been impressed with the youngster’s eagerness to learn and joy for music.


“Throughout my tenure teaching, I have observed that those who become completely enthralled with all facets of music are scarce,” he said. “(Kenny is) one of those scarcities.”


“I know Kenny has many interesting compositions in his future,” added Thompson. “I can’t wait to hear them.”



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Source: Will County News

Vanadium could become a crucial part of the renewables revolution & inexpensive

The ‘Beautiful Metal’ That Stores Energy

By Helen Abigail Baxter & Helena Gomes

An unheralded metal could become a crucial part of the renewables revolution. Vanadium is used in new batteries which can store large amounts of energy almost indefinitely, perfect for remote wind or solar farms. And what’s more there is loads of the stuff simply lying around in industrial dumps.

Don’t let the dumpster diving put you off – never mind gold or silver, vanadium may just be the most beautiful metal of all. It’s the 22nd most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, though it’s rarely found naturally in its metallic form. Instead, vanadium can be found in more than 100 different minerals.

Colours of vanadium. Steffen Kristensen

Once extracted and dissolved in water, various forms of vanadium turn into bright, bold colours. It’s even named after “Vanadis”, the old Norse name for the Scandinavian goddess of beauty, Freyja.

Vanadium is not only beautiful, but also strong. Adding small percentages of it creates exceptionally light, tough and more resilient steel alloys. Henry Ford was the first to use it on an industrial scale, in the 1908 Model T car chassis, and today the vast majority of vanadium is used in structural steel, mainly to build bridges and buildings.

Vanadium flow batteries

The unique properties of vanadium make it ideal for a new type of batteries that may revolutionise energy systems in the near future – redox flow batteries.

Batteries store energy and generate electricity by a reaction between two different materials – typically solid zinc and manganese. In flow batteries, these materials are liquid and have different electric charges. Both are pumped into a “cell” where the electric current is generated. A tiny membrane separates the two liquids, so they are able to react but don’t come into direct contact.

Vanadium is used in these batteries as it can convert back and forth from its various different states, which can carry different positive charges. As only one material is used, the risk of cross contamination is eliminated. The liquids have an indefinite life, so the replacement costs are low and there are no waste disposal problems. Also, the battery is extended to a potentially infinite lifetime.

In flow batteries, the energy production and capacity are independent. Energy is stored in tanks, whereas the capacity depends only on the amount of liquid stored. This provides a great design flexibility that other batteries do not allow. They are also safer, as the two liquids don’t mix causing a sudden release of energy. Even President Obama is impressed.

The new energy reservoir

Vanadium flow batteries are too big and heavy to replace the lithium batteries found in your phone, however. These batteries are instead used for large stationary long-term energy storage, or to supply remote areas, or provide backup power. They’re the basis for a more efficient, reliable, and cleaner electrical energy market.

Energy storage is one of the main factors limiting the spread of renewables. When solar and wind power is produced at the wrong time of day we need to store it to use it during the evening demand peaks. Studies have shown that vanadium batteries can be a sustainable solution.

When we can create huge stores of energy to access as required, we will be liberated from the need to maintain rapidly-accessible energy generation such as coal or gas. Vanadium batteries can be a reservoir of energy much in the same way as we use actual reservoirs to store rainwater for later use.

Strengthened with vanadium. The Henry Ford / Life magazine

The ability to store electricity would reduce reliance on gas and coal. In turn this would increase fuel security and cut CO2 emissions, helping to meet agreed emissions targets. No wonder then that the EU considers vanadium a critical metal for strategic energy technologies.

The hunt for vanadium

The metal is mined, and supplies are currently dominated by China, South Africa, Russia and the US. Vanadium has a medium risk of supply shortage and a high political risk.

However, as vanadium can be a byproduct of other sorts of mining, about 70% of the vanadium above ground is unused, left in industrial wastes such as mine tailings, debris or steel slags. In fact, a study I published with colleagues last year estimated that 43% of the annual global production of vanadium could be recovered from alkaline wastes, such as steel slag, red mud, fly ashes from coal energy production, and construction and demolition waste.

But there isn’t yet a firmly established technology to recover this vanadium. Certain bacteria and fungi can extract more vanadium from industrial wastes, and various solutions for turning this into useful metal are under development. But we still need to come up with a better way to reach potential sources of this beautiful metal.

The Conversation

Helena I. Gomes, Postdoctoral researcher in Environmental Sciences, University of Hull andHelen Abigail Baxter, Post Doc Research Assistant, Department of Geography Environment and Earth Sciences, University of Hull

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Source: Will County News