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 SRU Jazz Ensemble concert truly a 'heart stopper' 



May 9, 2007
Contact: K.E. Schwab


SRU Jazz Ensemble concert truly a 'heart stopper'


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -- Pandemonium, cheers, applause and whistles are often part of music concerts. Usually, the cheers are for the band. At Saturday's Slippery Rock University Jazz Festival, the cheers were for the police and their use of technology to bring news to one concertgoer. The story is circulating around the world.

           "The music was great, but the fact the concert was stopped in mid-tune by a Pennsylvania State Police officer who announced a transplant heart was available for a 10-year-old boy in the audience instantly made it an emotional and memorable event," said Stephen Hawk, associate professor of music and concert organizer.

           The concert, part of an all-day jazz festival in the University Union for regional high school jazz musicians, began as planned. Dave Samuels, one of the top mallet players of his generation, was in the spotlight.

           "Dave was in the middle of his original piece 'Soul Sauce,' when I spotted an officer animatedly talking with my wife off stage. As the music continued, the officer approached me and told me of the transplant. I stopped the band, and the officer asked for 'Mrs. Sue May to come forward because a heart had been found for her 10-year-old son.'" 

           "As Mrs. May and her son came to the front, the audience jumped to its feet with applause, cheers and yells. It was truly something to see," Hawk said. An estimated 550 people were in attendance.

           The Mays met the officer, later identified as Cpl. James Green, and were whisked from the building, Hawk said. "Dave and I took about 10 minutes to chat with the audience - and help settle emotions before resuming the concert." 

           State police used a global positioning system in Mrs. May's cell phone and cooperation from Sprint Nextel Corp. to locate her at the concert. Her son, John Paul, is reportedly doing well following the transplant at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. The transplant is John Paul's second. He was given his first new heart at age 10 months.

           In a concert Saturday evening at Butler County Community College, Hawk repeated the story and said, "The audience there also rose to its feet in emotional applause."

           The Associated Press distributed the story worldwide drawing the attention of CBS' "The Early Show" and CNN, which offered viewers interviews with May family members, including John Paul. In addition, newspapers across the state and nation as well as Australia's Sydney Morning Herald have carried the report.


           Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.


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