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Music Students Present Busy Concert Season

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Music Students Present Busy Concert Season

Bruce Molsky's Mountain Drifters rehearse with 4th-12th Graders before the Orchestra Summit Performance on November 7th.

Bruce Molsky's Mountain Drifters rehearse with 4th-12th Graders before the Orchestra Summit Performance on November 7th.

Sharron Cohen

Bruce Molsky's Mountain Drifters rehearse with 4th-12th Graders before the Orchestra Summit Performance on November 7th.

Sharron Cohen

Sharron Cohen

Bruce Molsky's Mountain Drifters rehearse with 4th-12th Graders before the Orchestra Summit Performance on November 7th.

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It has been another busy fall season of concerts for students in the Rockport Schools Music Department, and there are more concerts coming soon. The RMS and RHS Jazz Bands performed separate programs in mid-November, and all the students in the 4th-12th grade Orchestra program participated in a multi-day summit which culminated in a concert on Wednesday November 7th at the John Lane Auditorium.

The mission of the summits, which have become a yearly tradition, is to build mentorship between grade levels in the music ensembles, to give younger students a sense of where they are headed and to give the older students a sense of how far they have come. They used to be individual concerts featuring each of the ensembles. Then it changed to an after-school day of workshops and professional musicians with the elimination of the concert. According to Nathan Cohen, director of Orchestras and Chamber Music in the Rockport Schools, neither of those models seemed to get at what they were aiming to do, so now for the fourth year they have attempted a hybrid. This year for the orchestra and choral summits there are two days after-school and two evening concerts – one featuring student performers and another featuring visiting musicians. There are also special activities throughout the day. The hope is to build relationships between students during the day-time sessions, and then cap it off with a collaborative concert demonstrating the learning that has already taken place this year, with a special focus on collaboration with visiting professional musicians.

Rockport Music, which collaborates with local schools throughout the year, sponsored clinicians to work with students in all of their music classes the week of the summits. This year’s orchestra clinicians were Molsky’s Mountain Drifters: Grammy-nominated Bruce Molsky (fiddle), Allison DeGroot (banjo) and Stash Wyslouch (guitar). They specialize in old-time Appalachian fiddle music. There were around 130 students playing in the November 7th finale on a fiddle tune called Elk River Blues. Cohen and his colleagues recognize the challenge of limited space and growing ensembles but say they are “delighted by the continued interest in the program and support from the school’s administration and parents.”

“This was a particularly exciting summit year in orchestra because of our collaboration with Bruce Molsky and his band,” said Cohen. “Bruce sent us recordings for each of our ensembles to learn by ear, which is the traditional method for this kind of music. It forces us to think about music in different ways, and was a great experience for the students.” The Mountain Drifters spent two days visiting classes and workshopping with students before the concert on November 7.

The choruses in the Rockport Schools had their summits last week, collaborating with internationally renowned ensemble Windborne, culminating in the Choral Festival Performance on Thursday November 29th at 7 p.m. in the John Lane Auditorium at Rockport High School. Windborne also be performed a free concert at the Shalin Liu Performance Center at 7 p.m. on Tuesday November 27th. The bands will have their version of the summit in January, leading up to a collaboration with Beantown Swing Orchestra at the Shalin Liu Center on Wednesday January 23rd.

On Monday December 3, Middle School Chamber Music students performed a combination of classical and pop music at the Shalin Liu Performance Center.

There are several more Rockport Schools concerts coming soon. On Monday December 10, High School Chamber Music students and members of the Madrigal Choir will perform at the Shalin Liu Performance Center at 7 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public and will feature a combination of classical music and pop music arranged by students.

There are three more large-ensemble concerts the last week before December break. On Monday, December 17th the Rockport Elementary School Bands, Orchestras, and Choruses will perform. The High School ensembles will perform on Tuesday December 18th, and the Middle School Band, Chorus, and Orchestra will perform on Wednesday December 19th. Those three concerts will take place at 7 p.m. at the John Lane Auditorium on Jerdens Lane. They are also free and open to the public.

Gloucester Times Article on Music Dept Activity

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