Tag Archives: Staples High School music department

Today’s Extra-Special Holiday Gift

Santa has his elves. The Staples High School music department has Jim Honeycutt.

Though he retired in 2016, the video production teacher returned this month to coordinate video coverage of the Candlelight Concert.

Now — with help from audio production instructor Geno Heiter and consultant Mike Phillis — Candlelight fans around the globe can enjoy the 77th annual show.

Highlights include:

  • “Sing We Noel” is at 8:35.
  • Luke Rosenberg’s choral groups (15:45 27:35, and 36:00).
  • Adele Valovich’s symphonic orchestra (46:40).
  • Nick Mariconda’s symphonic band (59:15).
  • Don Rickenback’s production number (01:20:00).
  • The rousing “Hallelujah Chorus” (01:34:10).

Unwrap this gift carefully. It’s very precious!

 

Two Christmas Carols

Staples High School’s Candlelight Concert is the music department’s gift to the town.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

On Friday night, Steve Ruchefsky and Rondi Charleston threw their annual holiday party, at their beautiful Myrtle Avenue home.

Like many gatherings around Westport, it was a warm, wonderful way to catch up with friends of all ages.

But Steve and Rondi’s party was extra-special. Their daughter Emma — now a student at Berklee College of Music — joined with fellow former Orphenians for a few Christmas songs.

No offense to any other party with carol singers, but — well, take a listen:

 

Thanks to Emma Ruchefsky, Joe Badion, Bailey Claffey, Ian Goodman, Nick Massoud, Nick Ribolla and Sarah Quagliarello for reminding us all why music may be the greatest gift of all.

SPECIAL HOLIDAY BONUS: Last week, Staples’ Audio Production and Theater 3 classes combined to produce a live radio broadcast of “A Christmas Carol.”

It includes all the voices from Charles Dickens’ classic — plus music, clever sound effects, even old-time radio ads for products like Pepsodent.

If you missed it on WWPT-FM, just click here. Instructors Geno Heiter and David Roth, and dozens of students, offer a perfect soundtrack to your holiday.

And so — in the immortal words of Tiny Tim — “A Merry Christmas to us all!”

Staples Music Department Plays For Hurricane Relief

Last month, Hurricane Harvey roared through Texas. In addition to many damaged homes and businesses, countless small reminders of the storm’s devastation remain.

For example, school districts lost music libraries. Some had been meticulously grown, for decades.

Help is on the way.

Luck’s Music Library has pledged to match every dollar donated to a special fund.

The Staples Music Department quickly joined in. The goal is to raise $10,00o here. Thanks to Luck’s, that would mean $20,000 worth of music for Texas.

How will Westport do it? Let’s count the ways.

On Wednesday, October 18 (7:30 p.m., Saugatuck Elementary School) the Staples Strings Concert kicks off the drive, with a pass-the-hat collection.

Lauren Schmidt, Jessica Xu and Scott Adler rehearse for the upcoming Strings Concert.

At halftime of the Friday, October 27 home football game, the Jazz Ensemble will appear on the big scoreboard. That’s followed by video of a Houston high school. Tri-M music honor society members will then collect funds in the stands.

A “Chamber-a-thon” is set for Friday, November 3. From 3:30 p.m. on, musical groups play for 20 minutes each. They’ll ask Westporters to sponsor their segments, and a case will be open for other donations. The music department is searching for a high visibility location like Barnes & Noble for this event.

After Thanksgiving, there’s a Radio-a-thon with recorded Staples music and pledges.

Funds will also be collected every concert in town from now through Candlelight. A board sign near the tennis courts will show progress.

Meanwhile, all donations are welcome. Checks can made out to “SHS Music” and sent to: Staples High School Music Department, 70 North Avenue, Westport, CT 06880. Please write “Hurricane Harvey relief” on the memo line.

Logo by Tomaso Scotti, a Staples student in Carla Eichler’s graphic design class.

Pops! Goes The Concert

After 1296 straight days of rain and cold, the sun finally came out today.

This evening, so did the crowds.

Over 1,500 people — proud parents, folks whose kids graduated from school back in the 20th century, little kids who were born in the 2010s — packed the Levitt Pavilion for the 2nd annual Westport Pops concert.

A bottle of wine, some Pops, and wow!

The Bedford Middle School jazz ensemble, and Long Lots’ steel drum band — is there another elementary school with one this side of the islands? — warmed up the crowd.

Orphenians sang the same stirring arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner” that they wowed crowds with at Yankee Stadium.

The Long Lots Elementary School steel band.

Then Staples’ 3 orchestras, Orphenians (again) and jazz band took over.

Staples High School’s brassy sax ensemble.

The program rolled from “West Side Story” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” to Dolly Parton and freedom songs. Madison Malin and Riley Thrush nailed solos.

Madison Malin solos, Luke Rosenberg conducts, and the Orphenians sing Dolly Parton’s “Light of a Clear Blue Morning.”

And then — waving American flags handed out by the musicians — the enormous crowd clapped along to a rousing “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

Stars and stripes on the Levitt lawn, during “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

A night like this was worth all 12,960 days of rain and cold.

“Live at Lincoln Center” producer Andrew Wilk guest conducts the symphonic and sophomore orchestras in “Stars and Stripes Forever.” (Photo/Valerie Smith-Malin)

Broadway actor, noted entertainer and Weston resident Jim Naughton emceed the pops concert with wit and grace.

The Westport Police Department Color Guard opened and closed the show.

BONUS FEATURE: Here’s what the Levitt looked like last night, from Brandon Malin’s quadcopter:

Luke Rosenberg: “I Get To Make Music With Young People Every Day”

Friday night’s choral concert at Staples High School was typical.

That is, typically spectacular.

Scores of teenagers — representing 6 different ensembles, including Orphenians — sang a wide variety of difficult, inspiring and beautiful pieces. The theme was “Arise”; the songs carried the audience from early morning to late night.

The entire concert — from concept to the selection of music — was designed by student officers.

But the best part came at the end.

Choral director Luke Rosenberg. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Choral director Luke Rosenberg stood to honor the 29 graduating seniors. They prepared to introduce themselves, and describe what’s next. (A who’s who of great colleges, with majors ranging from musical theater and stage management to biophysics and political science.)

First though, Rosenberg took the mic.

In an emotion-choked voice, he said:

“I get to make music with young people every day. I fall in love with these kids. Then they get old, and go away.

“I want them to grow up and do great things. But it’s bittersweet.”

Rosenberg then described why he loves what he does — and why it is important.

His goal is not to create 30 or 40 music majors. “Quite frankly,” he quipped, “there are not enough jobs.”

Rather, music is “something they can love, and be part of for the rest of their lives.”

Then — proving his point — when Rosenberg was done, and the 29 seniors had taken their bows, the Orphenians took center stage one more time.

With senior Jacob Leaf conducting, they sang a stunning version of “Ave Maria.”

They’d prepared it on their own — just for Luke Rosenberg.

Click below to see Luke Rosenberg’s full speech. It was filmed by Tom Malin — father of graduating senior Madison Malin — and edited by her brother Brandon.

[UPDATE WITH CORRECT DATE] Come To The (Staples) Cabaret

It’s not easy for the Staples High School music department to come up with new ideas.

But they keep doing it.

Last year they introduced a pops concert. This year they’ve added a cabaret — with alumni.

On Friday, May 19 (7:30 p.m.), 5 grads — all music or music theater majors — join 17 current Staples students on the Staples stage.

Alums include Tyler Jent (who graduated a few days ago from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music), Cara McNiff (Elon University), Jack Bowman (Penn State), Emma Ruchefsky (Berklee College of Music) and Julia Mandelbaum (Rider University).

Emma Ruchefsky (shown here with Jack Baylis) is a favorite with Staples music and theater audiences. (Photo/Kerry Long)

The cabaret is a fundraiser for the choral program. But it’s also a chance for the entire community to see the current vocal talent at Staples — and welcome home some very talented grads. To purchase tickets, click here.

Meanwhile, choral director Luke Rosenberg has put a new twist on the traditional spring concert (this Friday, May 12, 7:30 p.m., Staples auditorium). The show — which includes the Orphenians, a cappella choir, chorus and chorale — was completely student-driven.

Concept, theme, musical selections — all were chosen by students.

The title is “Arise: Songs to Sing Through the Day and Night.” The repertoire references different times of day, and all that those windows offer us.

Seems there’s always something new under the Staples music department sun.

Choral director Luke Rosenberg in action. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

The Holidays Are Here! Candlelight Concert Tickets Available Tomorrow.

Last year’s 75th Candlelight Concert celebration was classic — a warm, wonderful mix of voices, instruments, tradition, reverence, fun and joy that captivated audiences from near and far.

So what can Staples High School’s music department do for an encore?

They’ll reach for the brass ring again with their 76th.

The timeless "Sing We Noel" processional, in 2015. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

The timeless “Sing We Noel” processional, in 2015. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

This year’s Candlelight Concert — featuring the symphonic orchestra, concert band and 3 vocal ensembles — includes longtime favorites like the “Sing We Noel” processional, excerpts from the “Nutcracker Suite,” “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring” and the rousing “Hallelujah Chorus” finale, along with exciting new additions.

Performances are set for Friday, December 16 (8 p.m.) and Saturday, December 17 (2 p.m. and 8 p.m.). The free tickets always go fast. This year — for the first time ever — they’ll be available online. Requests will be taken starting tomorrow (Thursday, November 17); click here for the form.

A limited number of tickets can be requested by mail (through December 9). Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Candlelight Tickets, Staples High School, 70 North Avenue, Westport, CT 06880. For more information, call 203-341-1243.

Even The Birds Loved Tonight’s Pops Concert

Check out this great view of the 1st-ever Staples High School Pops Concert at Levitt Pavilion, courtesy of Brandon Malin’s drone. (Click on or hover over to enlarge — you’ll love it!)

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Brandon Malin)

(Photo/Brandon Malin)

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.)

Musica Caliente!

On Friday, Staples High School’s Orphenians, A Cappella Choir, Chorus and Chorale presented more than a dozen songs from places near the equator: Brazil, Bali, India, Puerto Rico, Haiti, East Africa.

“¡Musica Caliente!” was the latest in an extraordinary series of gifts from the music department to the town.

If you missed it, no hay problema. Staples’ indefatigable Media Lab co-director Jim Honeycutt taped and edited the entire show. Now “06880” readers can enjoy it all.

NOTE: The first number is not a traditional “song.” But it does show the amazing sounds choral director Luke Rosenberg elicits from his teenage singers.

If your browser does not take you directly to YouTube, click here.