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The Mark Woolman Horner Music Education Fund

The Mark Woolman Horner Music Education Fund was established through the generous donations made by friends, family and community in Mark’s memory after his tragic death in San Antonio, Texas, December 14, 1998.  Mark was a gifted musician and had been principal trombonist in the San Antonio Symphony for the previous two years.  Born in Bar Harbor in 1973, Mark loved music from an early age, studied trombone with William Whitener throughout elementary and high school here on Mount Desert Island, and played in award winning bands and stage bands under Richard Ordway.  By age 15, he was spending summers at Tanglewood Institute and looking toward a future in music.  In 1990, Mark was accepted into the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra.  The MDI community provided the financial support to help him attend rehearsals every Sunday in Boston from September to May.  Area scholarships helped Mark to attend the prestigious Juilliard School, where he studied under his future mentor and guiding spirit Joseph Alessi, principal trombonist of The New York Philharmonic Orchestra.  The night of his graduation in 1995, he was invited to play with the Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall.  At the time of his death at age 25, Mark Horner was considered one of the foremost trombonists in the country.

Presenting Possibilities ~ Encouraging Excellence

The overall goal of the Music Education Fund is to present possibilities to talented young musicians in the MDI community, and to encourage excellence in their musical pursuits.  In that effort, fund organizers held a very successful benefit concert in September 1999.   “The Art of the Trombone” featured four prominent trombonists from The San Antonio Symphony, The Boston Symphony, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and The New York Philharmonic.  Many area music students attended the concert, where they had a chance to meet and talk with the musicians about their work, and how they achieved success.

In March 2000, The Music Education Fund sponsored a collaborative effort with The Juilliard School’s outreach program to bring a brass quintet to MDI for a week. Five Juilliard graduate students spent the week living with area families, teaching, mentoring, and playing music with MDI students and teachers in the elementary and high schools. The highlight of the week was a concert performed by the Juilliard quintet and MDI students.

Mark's father, Bill Horner, had a vision to create a summer brass festival and presented the idea to the trombone players during the first benefit concert in 1999.  Matt Vaughn accepted the challenge and created the first Bar Harbor Brass Week in August 2001.  Mark Horner's parents and siblings reside on Mt. Desert Island, and are active participants in Bar Harbor Brass Week every year.


Carol Woolman, Mark Horner’s mother, recently posted a short but powerful version of Mark’s story on BarackObama.com.  December 14, 2013 is the 15th anniversary of Mark’s death.  Click here to read the story.