The Naugatuck Public Schools presented their 33rd Annual Borough Music Festival (affectionately known as Borofest) on Friday night in the packed Davis Auditorium at the high school. A portrait of Leroy Anderson graced the cover of the program for this year's festival of music in our schools.
Salem principal and music department supervisor Jennifer Kruge gracefully welcomed the crowd to the concert and called music "a gift they will always have." Thanks to the excellent teachers that make up the music department in the district, the gift will continue to be bestowed on our students young and old. As I watched the teachers usher the various instrumental groups on and off the stage, I was struck by just how much moving of furniture they also must accomplish.
The ninety-minute performance opened with the combined intermediate school bands. Lisa Pettinicchi conducted the spirited piece "Drums Up Front March" by John O'Reilly, otherwise known as the percussion section's dream composition. High School Band teacher Robert Hughes led the Hillside and Cross Street musicians in "Midnight Mission" by Brian Balmages. Kathy Dravis then took the baton for "Dragon Slayer" by Rob Grice, which featured Chinese style percussion.
Beloved elementary music teacher Robert Trosan then assembled a large group of fourth grade students in front of the curtain to present several selections from "Do It - Play Recorder" by James Froseth. The students did a great job with the short pieces, playing what is for many their first instrument. Mr. Trosan played harmony for many of the pieces on a larger recorder.
Next up was the Symphonic Band made up of middle school students from City Hill. Mrs. Dravis directed "Excalibur" by James Swearingen and Mr. Hughes encouraged the musicians through Leroy Anderson's "Blue Tango." Mrs. Pettinicchi conducted a very spirited "African Spirit Dance" by John O'Reilly for their final piece.
The fourth graders returned to their risers to play another group of pieces from the same book, but this time their first piece was ably accompanied by elementary music teacher David Campbell on keyboard. Mr. Trosan reminded the crowd that the first time that this group of recorder players had practiced together was the morning of the concert.
Mr. Hughes then led the high school Jazz Band in three pieces, including "April in Paris" by Bob Lowden (featuring Greg Marquardt on trombone and Steven Evarts on trumpet,) "Skyfall" by John Berry, and "Big Noise from Winnetka" by Paul Lavender (featuring Jacob Gibson on trumpet and Russell Andrew on Alto Sax.) My take-away from this set was that even if the mother of the piano player sits directly in front of your grand piano (with the two amps for guitar and bass next to it,) she will still not be able to hear you unless the majority of the other musicians stop playing. Sad but true.
A wonderful performance of Leroy Anderson's "Bugler's Holiday" was expertly given by a small group of music teachers. It included Mrs. Pettinicchi, Mr. Hughes and one other man on trumpet, Mahlon Peterson on piano and Mr. Campbell on snare drum. It was impressive.
The high school wind ensemble closed the program. Michael Brown's "Hunger Games" was a popular favorite and featured marching band leader Cortney Els on piccolo. It was conducted by guest conductor Gary Partridge. Mr. Partridge has been working with various band ensembles every Thursday at the high school and served as the director of Capital Symphonic Winds at the Hartt School, Director of Bands at Central Connecticut, and has conducted numerous All State, Regional and District Bands throughout the country.
Another piece by Leroy Anderson "The Waltzing Cat"
was conducted by Mr. Hughes and Mr. Partridge conducted the final piece,
"Scheherazade' by Jay Bocook. Eric McNulty had a wonderful alto sax solo,
Emily Griffin and band leader Megan McSweeney soloed on flute and Jussonjah
Duby on clarinet. NHS band fans can follow them on Twitter @naugyband.
Mr. Hughes took a break from the music to call up Naugatuck Education Foundation's Joan Doback and Rolf Anderson, a son of the late Leroy Anderson. He thanked both individuals for their work over the last year and half to allow all Naugatuck students to study the life and works of the Woodbury CT native. Mr. Hughes also announced the recipient of the Wendy Ruggeri scholarship for this year. Danielle Eitapence will receive the $400 scholarship at the annual awards ceremony at the high school.Congratulations to all the talented students that performed for family and friends, and at least one teacher, that would be me. Thank you to all the music teachers that are so good at what they do. Thank you for the gift of music.