Have you ever heard of a euphonium? It is a medium-sized brass instrument that resembles a small tuba.
For student Lander Ethan Richardson, a euphonium has a lot of meaning behind its somewhat obscure name.
“For me, it’s my connection with God,” Richardson said. “Everyone connects with God in different ways, whether it’s through worshiping or reading the Word. It’s my way of expressing God through me.
Richardson will have the opportunity to speak nationally on New Years Day. The Greenwood native was the only South Carolinian selected to perform in The Salvation Army Tournament of Roses at the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. .
“A lot of stuff through The Salvation Army, we play hymn based arrangements,” said Richardson. “I’m pretty much at peace when I play. It’s my way of showing God, ‘That’s what you did for me. So let me give you back.
Richardson’s longtime friend David Rodriguez, who plays the bass trombone, is the representative for North Carolina.
Richardson excels academically, musically and athletically. He was an outstanding football player and wrestler at Greenwood High School, and he also played club league football with the Toros organization. Today he is a star rugby player in Lander. He is also pursuing two majors at the university, where he regularly obtains honors for his academic excellence.
And then there is his music.
“I got a lot of tips to get to where I am,” said Richardson. Two people are my mentors. They are like big brothers.
One is Samuel Mhasvi, a Lander graduate, who worked as a counselor at Lander and taught music with the Salvation Army Division Orchestra. Richardson was 8 when he first met Mhasvi.
“It stayed with me pretty much the entire time while in college,” said Richardson. “He always encouraged me and told me if I do this, do it 110%.
Jamar “Hoot” Crawford, owner of Next Level Fitness in Greenwood, is another mentor for Richardson.
“I go there to train, but it’s more than just training,” said Richardson. “It’s a mentorship. You learn to prepare for the next level of living, whether you go to college, the military, or the workforce. He has a big influence on my life because he pushed me in everything I did. One of its mottos is “eat or be eaten” because, at the end of the day, are you going to be working as hard as the person in front of you? “
Richardson has been playing with the Salvation Army Divisional Band for about 10 years. He is excited about the opportunity to represent Greenwood in the Rose Parade, which will be televised live at 11 a.m. on affiliates ABC and NBC.
“It is an honor to go there,” said Richardson. “I have a lot of weight on my shoulders because it takes a lot of discipline to be able to memorize all the music. For me, if I haven’t memorized the music when I arrive, they’ll fly me for nothing – so I can’t walk.
It shouldn’t be a problem. The Salvation Army Rose Band sent him the music a few weeks ago. It took him about a week to memorize the band’s arrangement on “Amazing Grace” and he was almost finished learning “This Is Our Story”.
“They send us tapes,” he said. “As long as I know where I am in the song, I pretty much know my role.”
Richardson will fly to California on December 28 and return to Greenwood on January 2.
“I just want to experience what I can in California,” he said. “It will be nice to be in the Rose Parade, to see all these people and just have fun.”
Richardson has ambitious goals in his three areas of expertise. Athletically, he would like to play professional rugby or compete in the Olympics. Academically, he will pursue a doctorate in music and a master’s degree in computer science.
“Ultimately, I want to be able to teach (music) at the college level or play professionally in orchestras or have a career as a soloist,” he said. “And then, with IT, I would eventually like to have my own business.”