Tag Archives: Nick Mariconda

Pics Of The Day #781

In just 4 years, the Westport Schools’ Music Department Pops Concert has become one of the true highlights — and must-have tickets — of the spring.

The choruses, bands and orchestras are phenomenal. The Levitt Pavilion locale is stupendous. The evening is warm — in both the weather and community senses of the word.

It’s a sure sign that summer is almost here.

And that this is a town that loves and supports music, in all its forms.

A variety of chamber groups entertained early arrivals…

… as did the very talented Middle School Percussion Ensemble, playing traditional rhythms of Senegal.

A small part of the large Levitt Pavilion crowd.

The Westport Police Department color guard. (Photo/Tomas Curwen)

Symphonic and jazz band leader Nick Mariconda retires this year, after 41 years with the Westport schools. He was honored at his final concert.

Three of Mariconda’s former students — Jon Owens ’86, Andrew Willmott ’85 and Michael Ances ’90 — came back. They played trumpet — Mariconda’s instrument — on “Bugler’s Holiday.” All are now music educators.

Between sets, Staples musicians hung out by the river.

First Selectman Jim Marpe, interim superintendent of schools Dr. David Abbey and former Staples High School principal/Pops emcee John Dodig enjoyed the show.

The Orphenians wowed the crowd with selections like “And So It Goes” and “Unclouded Day.”

Orphenians director Luke Rosenberg.

Another view of the great crowd. (All photos/Dan Woog unless otherwise noted)

Unsung Heroes #101

This Unsung Heroes post started with a request to honor one Bedford Middle School music teacher: Lou Kitchner.

A parent praised him for his “innate passion for music, and the power music can have on an individual child.” She mentioned his special ability to make each student feel special; his utter devotion to his craft, and the youngsters he works with; his ability to reach each at their own level, and help them reach far beyond whatever they thought was possible.

Lou Kitchner

Mr. Kitchner certainly deserves those kudos. But Westport is fortunate to have many other superb music educators too. Each one — from elementary school teachers like Greens Farms’ Suzanne Sherman Propp, to Staples’ Luke Rosenberg, Carrie Mascaro and Nick Mariconda (who retires this year, after more than 40 years as band leader) — earns well-deserved praise and love from students and parents.

So — 2 days before the Westport music department’s 4th annual Pops Concert (a sellout, as always) — “06880” hails the entire town’s band, orchestra and vocal teachers as Unsung Heroes.

Luke Rosenberg, Carrie Mascaro and Nick Mariconda at the 2018 Candlelight Concert.

But I kept thinking about Lou Kitchner and his Bedford band. This has been a very tough year for his school — and of course Coleytown Middle too. Teachers from 2 schools were suddenly thrown together, in 1 building. Overnight, they had to adapt to an entirely new situation.

With incredible hard work, they got it done. Administrators and staff members — teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians, you name it — did whatever they had to to serve their students. (The same thing happened at Staples High, with Coleytown’s 8th graders.)

Spaces and resources were shared. Schedules were worked out. Everyone compromised. The school year went on.

That teamwork was never more evident than on Memorial Day. The Bedford and Coleytown bands marched together. Their numbers were huge. Their sound was impressive. Walking proudly — in front of, behind, and among them — were music teachers from both schools.

The Bedford and Coleytown Middle School bands combined this year. Hundreds of young musicians sounded great — and very together! (Photo/Sarah Tamm)

So everyone who had any part in making the Coleytown/Bedford/Staples transition work this year is an Unsung Hero too.

That’s a lot of heroes. But it takes a village to educate a child.

We bang the drum for all of you.

Sing We Noel: Staples’ Spectacular Candlelight Concert

From an achingly beautiful “Stille Nacht” to a stirring Nigerian carol “Betelehemu” — bookended of course by the haunting traditional “Sing We Noel” processional, a hilarious production number and the rousing “Hallelujah Chorus” — last night’s 78th Candlelight Concert was one of the best ever.

Staples High School’s hundreds of singers, orchestra and band members and instructors put their remarkable talents on display, in a packed auditorium. It is the music department’s gift to the town — and no amount of money could provide a finer present.

The Candlelight Concert continues this afternoon and this evening. All tickets for both performances were claimed weeks ago.

(Photo/Paul Einarsen)

Handsome decorations in the Staples High School auditorium lobby.

Chamber musicians play as concert-goers arrived.

Antonio Antonelli carries on the “Sing We Noel” tradition.

The Choralaires’ joyful rendition of “Betelehemu.” Dr. Robert Kwan is the accompanist.

Carrie Mascaro debuts as Staples’ Symphonic Orchestra conductor.

Don Rickenback’s hilarious production number includes a “Fiddler on the Roof”-style introduction about “Tradition” …

… and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’s much lesser-known daughter.

Choral director Luke Rosenberg, orchestra conductor Carrie Mascaro and band leader Nick Mariconda take well-deserved bows. (All photos/Dan Woog unless otherwise noted)

Pop! Go The Concerts

If you missed last Friday’s Staples High School concert, you weren’t alone. Tickets went faster than “Springsteen on Broadway” (and, being free, for a lot less cash).

But you don’t have to wait a year for the next one.

Here, thanks to the indefatigable Jim Honeycutt, is the entire show.

The symphonic band and orchestra, jazz band and choral group Orphenians — they’re all here.

So is a special tribute to retiring orchestra director Adele Valovich. The show is narrated by actor/director James Naughton.

Bravo!

BONUS REEL: As if that’s not enough, here’s the recent spring concert, featuring Nick Mariconda’s Staples jazz band, and their Bedford Middle School counterparts, led by Gregg Winters.

Youth Concert Excites, Inspires And Awes

For decades, the Youth Concert has been a wintertime highlight — for performers and audiences alike.

Over 200 Staples High School students present a multimedia, interdisciplinary thematic show for every Westport 3rd through 6th grader.

Elementary and middle school music teachers prepare their students well. Their kids are engaged and excited.

Many of the Staples musicians on stage remember well their own excitement, sitting in the audience a few years earlier. For some, it sparked their passion for music and the arts.

This year’s theme was “Global Cultures.” And — for the first time ever — there was an encore performance at night, for parents.

Jim Honeycutt — who retired 2 years ago as a Media Lab video production teacher — loves the Youth Concert. He came back this year to tape the evening show.

He produced 2 videos. One includes the multimedia video shown above the performing musicians, on a screen. The other is without it.

Enjoy either (or both). You’ll be amazed at the talents of our high school students.

And — like their young audiences — inspired by the power of music.

(Staples’ Youth Concert musicians were led by Adele Valovich [orchestra], Nick Mariconda [band] and Luke Rosenberg [vocal].)

Sing We Noel…

The 77th annual Candlelight Concert debuted last night in the Staples High School auditorium. It’s the music department’s gift to the town. Performances are also set for this afternoon and evening.

As it has for more than three-quarters of a century, Candlelight was beautiful, magical and meaningful.

And the light snow just added to the wonder.

Photographer Lynn U. Miller was there to capture the scenes.

For 77 years, Candlelight has featured the lovely “Sing We Noel” processional.

The orchestra performed a stunning “Swan Lake” …

… and orchestra director Adele Valovich took a well-deserved bow.

Candlelight included the symphonic and sophomore bands, led by Nick Mariconda, as well as a variety of choral groups.

Luke Rosenberg directs the Choralaires (formerly the a cappella choir).

Don Rickenback wrote a jolly, North Pole-themed production number.

It wouldn’t be Candlelight without Alice Addicks.

In addition to the traditional “Cans for Candlelight” food drive, members of the Tri-M music honor society collected donations to rebuild music libraries in Texas schools, lost this fall to Hurricane Harvey.

Click below to hear the rousing “Hallelujah Chorus” finale:

(All photos and video/Lynn U. Miller)

Candlelight: A Concert For The Ages

For 76 years, the Staples High School music department has offered the Candlelight Concert as a gift to the town.

Last night’s present was well received, by a full house. Candlelight continues this afternoon and tonight.

No tickets remain. But here’s a chance to enjoy some of what the hundreds of young musicians — and their very talented teachers — gave to us last night.

The lobby display got concert-goers in the holiday spirit.

A lobby display got concert-goers in the holiday spirit.

Alice Addicks retired from Staples in June. But she returned last night to her long-time post as head usher.

Alice Addicks retired from Staples in June. But she returned last night to her long-time post as head usher.

Candida Innaco's chamber orchestra played outside the auditorium before the concert.

Candi Innaco’s chamber orchestra played outside the auditorium before the concert.

The stage was set...

Dozens of poinsettias set the mood.

The orchestra began with Elgar's "Enigma Variations."

The orchestra began with Elgar’s “Enigma Variations.”

Choir member Colin McKechnie, in the famous "Sing We Noel" processional.

Choir member Colin McKechnie, in the famous “Sing We Noel” processional.

Dr. Robert Kwan accompanies the chorus and chorale.

Dr. Robert Kwan accompanied the chorus and chorale.

Luke Rosenberg led the choir in 4 beautiful songs.

Luke Rosenberg led the choir in 4 beautiful songs.

The orchestra, reflected in the piano.

Orchestra members, reflected in the piano.

The production number included several intriguing characters.

The “Hail to the Chief” production number included several intriguing “holiday” characters…

...including Secret Service agents. They flanked Don Rickenback, who wrote the entire piece.

…including Secret Service agents. They flanked Don Rickenback, who wrote the entire piece.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer joined in the rousing "Hallelujah Chorus" finale.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer joined in the rousing “Hallelujah Chorus” finale.

Orchestra director Adele Cutralo=Valovich and band director Nick Mariconda take their bows.

Orchestra director Adele Cutrali-Valovich and band director Nick Mariconda take bows.

candlelight-2016-program-cover

Pops Goes The Concert

It took just 3 hours for the public to snap up all 1,600 tickets for tonight’s 1st-ever Staples High School Pops Concert.

And the crowd — old, young, Levitt Pavilion regulars and those who’ve never been to Westport’s riverside amphitheater — were not disappointed.

The orchestra, jazz band and choral groups — hundreds of very talented musicians — made this a (windy) night to remember.

Next year, the tickets will be snagged in a lot less than 3 hours.

Every inch of the lawn was filled, as the Staples orchestra welcomed Westporters to the 1st-ever Pops Concert.

Every inch of the Levitt Pavilion lawn was filled, as the Staples orchestra welcomed Westporters to the 1st-ever Pops Concert.

Dueling violinists.

Dueling violins.

Emcee -- and Tony Award winner -- Jim Naughton took a turn on the triangle.

Emcee — and 2-time Tony Award winner — Jim Naughton took a turn on the triangle.

The sun glints off the Levitt Pavilion pavilion, as the jazz band plays.

The sun glints off the Levitt Pavilion pavilion, as the jazz band plays.

Three Orphenians hang out, before they're called.

Three Orphenians hang out, before they’re called.

First Selectman Jim Marpe (far left) was part of the enormous crowd at tonight's Staples High Pops Concert.

First Selectman Jim Marpe (far left) was part of the enormous crowd at tonight’s Staples High School Pops Concert.

Orchestra leader Adele Valovich and choral director Luke Rosenberg address the audience.

Orchestra leader Adele Valovich and choral director Luke Rosenberg greet the audience.

The 1st-ever Staples Pops Concert was fun for all ages. (All photos/Dan Woog -- click on or hover over any photo to enlarge.)

The 1st-ever Staples Pops Concert was fun for all ages. (All photos/Dan Woog — click on or hover over any photo to enlarge.)

Candlelight 2015: A Concert For The Ages

Hundreds of alumni — from as far away as California, and as long ago as the 1950s — poured in to the Staples High School auditorium, for last night’s 75th anniversary Candlelight Concert.

At the end of the emotional evening, they poured onto the stage for Staples’ largest-ever “Hallelujah Chorus.” In addition to the traditional choral singers, several former orchestra members brought their instruments on stage too.

Candlelight has inspired musicians and concert-goers for three-quarters of a century. Here’s to the next 75!

Wellington Baumann holds his candle proudly, during the "Sing We Noel" processional. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Wellington Baumann holds his candle proudly, during the “Sing We Noel” processional. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

The timeless "Sing We Noel" processional. (Photo/Kerry Long)

The timeless “Sing We Noel” processional. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Among the programs on display was this. The 2nd verse of "Sing We Noel" is no longer sung -- making it a lost verse from a carol that (except for Staples) is now quite obscure.

Among the programs on display was this. The 2nd verse of “Sing We Noel” is no longer sung — making it a lost verse from a carol that (except for Staples) is now quite obscure. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Dr. Robert Kwan accompanied the chorus and chorale. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Dr. Robert Kwan accompanied the chorus and chorale. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Vocal director Luke Rosenberg asks his chorale to take a bow. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Vocal director Luke Rosenberg asks his chorale to take a bow. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Adele Valovich's orchestra wowed the audience with 2 selections from "Coppelia Ballet." Nick Mariconda's band was similarly stunning. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Adele Valovich’s orchestra wowed the audience with 2 selections from “Coppelia Ballet.” (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Nick Mariconda's band added a big brass sound. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Nick Mariconda’s band added a big brass sound. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

World music is an important part of Candlelight. The African song "Noel" included rhythmic clapping by the a cappella choir. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

World music is an important part of Candlelight. The African song “Noel” included rhythmic clapping by the a cappella choir. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Don Rickenback's original production number included a Santa "Grinch." (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Don Rickenback’s original production number included this Santa “Grinch.” (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

David Ohanian -- son of Candlelight founder John Ohanian, and himself a world renowned French horn player -- guest-conducted the orchestra for the "Hallelujah Chorus." Former choral director Alice Lipson did the same honors with the vocalists. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

David Ohanian — son of Candlelight founder John Ohanian, and himself a world renowned French horn player — guest-conducted the orchestra for the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Former choral director Alice Lipson did the same honors with the vocalists. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Alumni joined current singers and orchestra members for a memorable "Hallelujah Chorus." (Photo/Kerry Long)

Alumni joined current singers and orchestra members for a memorable “Hallelujah Chorus.” Click on or hover over this (and every) photo for the full effect. (Photo/Kerry Long)

A program from 1958 -- just one thread in an unbroken string of memorable Candlelight Concerts, from 1940 to 2015. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

A program from 1958 — just one thread in an unbroken string of memorable Candlelight Concerts, from 1940 to 2015. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Bonus feature: Joe Pucci’s video of the “Hallelujah Chorus:

 

Candlelight Concert Rings In The Holiday Season

Tonight’s Candlelight Concert — the 1st show of the 2-day, 74th annual gift to the town from the Staples High School music department — wowed a packed auditorium.

Hundreds of singers and musicians performed sophisticated pieces with aplomb. They threw in a PDQ Bach number, and the world premiere of a global warming-themed production number by Don Rickenbach.

And, of course, the timeless “Sing We Noel” processional, and rousing “Hallelujah Chorus” finale, serve as fitting bookends for one of Westport’s favorite events of the year.

"Now let hosannas ring..." (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

“Now let hosannas ring…” (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

The chorus and chorale, with accompanist Dr. Robert Kwan. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

The chorus and chorale, with accompanist Dr. Robert Kwan. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

The a cappella choir, directed by Luke Rosenberg. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

The a cappella choir, directed by Luke Rosenberg. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Adele Valovich leads the symphonic orchestra.

Adele Valovich leads the symphonic orchestra. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Nick Mariconda and the symphonic band. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Nick Mariconda and the symphonic band. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

There was a lot going on during the clever production number. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

A lot went on during the clever production number. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

At the end of the "Hallelujah Chorus," the audience was invited to return next year -- when the Candlelight Concerts celebrates its 75th anniversary. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

At the end of the “Hallelujah Chorus,” the audience was invited to return next year — when the Candlelight Concerts celebrates its 75th anniversary. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)