Tag Archives: Staples High School music department

Feasting On Candlelight

There’s no “Sing We Noel” processional this weekend. Alumni won’t throng the risers for the “Hallelujah Chorus.” All the little things — the beautiful music, zippy production number, even the large wreath hanging as a backdrop — are missing from this year’s Candlelight Concert.

But parents, friends and alumni — even the singers and musicians themselves — will feel the familiar goosebumps this Saturday (December 19, 7:30 p.m.), when a special livestream brings Candlelight to homes around the globe.

And if your home is in Westport, why not do something to help the town?

(Photo by Lynn U. Miller)

The Staples High School music department — which for 80 yeas has offered this gift to the town — has a great idea to make this home-for-the-holiday event extra special.

They suggest that everyone in Westport enjoy a takeout dinner this Saturday. Pick a favorite spot. Order a favorite meal. Pick it up (or have it delivered). Then gather around the TV screen (or computer), and make a festive night of it.

The music department makes this super easy. They’ve linked to Our Town Crier’s Westport Marketplace restaurant page. Just click here. There are dozens of places to choose from, featuring every cuisine (and price point).

It’s no secret: Restaurants need our help.

It’s also no secret: The Candlelight Concert is all about sharing.

This Saturday, share a meal along with music. And help our restaurants end 2020 on a high “note.”

(Click here for free registration for Saturday’s Candlelight Concert.)

Staples Candlelight Concert: The Show Will Go On!

COVID has canceled many holiday traditions: tree lightings. Carol sings. Office parties.

It can’t stop the Candlelight Concert. Can it?

Nope.

The beloved event — Staples High School’s music department gift to the town — takes place Saturday, December 19.

Of course, there’s a coronavirus caveat.

The bad news: For the first time in its fabled 80-year history, there will be no in-person audience. The musical numbers were recorded this weekend — with strict adherence to safety protocols. The concert will be livestreamed a week from next Sunday, at 7:30 p.m.

The good news: It will be a fantastic production.

In addition to the usual, wonderful professional-quality choirs, orchestra and bands, there are compelling interviews with current and past music directors, famed alumni participants, and the children of legendary educators George Weigle and John Hanulik.

The even better news: Because it’s a virtual concert, there’s no limit to the audience. There’s no scrambling for tickets. Anyone, anywhere on the globe (with an internet connection) can thrill to this year’s Candlelight “live.”

Even the musicians will be able to enjoy the show, at home with their families.

Registration for the remote access link is available next Monday (December 14, 9 a.m.) at www.StaplesMusic.org. Mark that date — and the December 19, 7:30 p.m. showtime.

Hallelujah!

There won’t be hundreds of musicians together on stage this year. But the Candlelight Concert will be as inspiring and beautiful as ever.

 

Youth Concert Brings China To Westport

Years ago, the Westport Youth Concert began as an opportunity to enrich students’ cultural awareness, through music.

As the school district’s emphasis on global understanding has grown, so has the Youth Concert. It’s evolved into a cross-cultural, collaborative event involving not only music, but Westport Public Schools’ visual arts and world language departments.

Outside organizations like the Westport Library, Westport Public Art Collections and PTA Cultural Arts have signed on as community partners.

A scene from last year’s Youth Concert.

This year’s event exemplifies the music department’s mission. “Music of China” features Staples High School musicians, the award-winning Middle School Percussion Ensemble, and guest artists from the New York Chinese Cultural Center. They’ll perform a lion dance and musical piece using a pipa, guzheng and erhu — with mini-lessons about each instrument.

The feature performance is Tuesday, February 4 (7 p.m., Staples auditorium). On that day, and February 6, in-school educational concerts for 3rd through 6th graders will complement the public concert.

It’s a huge undertaking. Youth Concert planning begins at the start of the school year. Coordinator Candi Innaco creates a classroom guide. It introduces the theme, and includes links to resources and classroom instruction.

Leading up to the event, teachers at Greens Farms, Long Lots and Saugatuck Elementary School had students design China-related art: hanging lanterns, wish kites, brush paintings, Ming Dynasty vases and the like.

Westport student art: Ming Dynasty vases.

All elementary music instructors are teaching the tune and lyrics to “Jasmine Flower.” At the concert, students will sing it from the audience — led by Staples’ Orphenians.

Staples’ world language department is involved too. Mandarin students will emcee the concert, and photos taken by teacher Chris Fray on his recent visit to China will be shown.

WestPAC, meanwhile, is displaying art and photography from China at their traveling pop-up galleries, at every school.

In March, the Westport Library will bring the same guest artists from the New York China Cultural Center, to perform again.

China lion dance, performed by members of the New York Chinese Cultural Center.

The public is invited to the free February 4 evening performance. For more information about this event and the Westport music program, click here.

Candlelight Concert: The Video

Couldn’t get tickets to this year’s 79th annual Staples High School Candlelight Concert? Couldn’t get there, because you live far away?

Couldn’t listen to the WWPT-FM broadcast or livestream? Couldn’t figure out how to access the Soundcloud audio either?

No problem! Jim Honeycutt — longtime Staples media teacher, now retired but still a music department fan and Santa’s-elf-like helper — shot and produced a video of the entire event.

So sit down and relax. Grab a glass or mug of your favorite holiday cheer. Then click below, to enjoy another marvelous performance by our town’s very talented choral, orchestra and band members.

 

Did You Miss Staples’ Fall Music Concerts? Here They Are!

With so much going on every day, you might have missed the Staples High School music department’s 3 fall concerts.

Or maybe you’re an alum, living far away.

No problem! Thanks to the magic of former media lab instructor Jim Honeycutt, all 3 are available now.

The chamber, symphonic, sophomore and freshman orchestra’s concert was called “Something Old, Something New.” It featured music from the Baroque era, to contemporary works.

The choral concert highlighted music of the Renaissance.

Meanwhile, the symphonic band and wind ensemble presented “Winds of Change.”

Finally, here’s an extra feature: an interview with Phil Giampietro. The new bands director talks about his plans for the pep band:

Let the music play!

Water, Water Everywhere …

As Westport prepares for heavy rain and possible thunderstorms tonight — with  coastal flooding and shoreline impacts from midnight through 4 a.m. — alert “06880” reader JP Vellotti forwarded this text:

His only comment: “Kinda ironic.”

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)

Staples Pops Concert Tickets Available Soon

In just 4 years, the Staples High School Pops Concert has become the town’s newest tradition.

And its hottest ticket.

This year’s event is set for Friday, June 7, at the Levitt Pavilion.

Part of the large crowd at last year’s Staples Pops Concert.

The Levitt Pavilion lawn opens at 5:30 p.m. There’s pre-concert music, mingling, and food from 3 trucks. (Bodega, JR’s and Jim’s Ice Cream all donate part of their proceeds to the Staples music department.)

Free tickets will be available online at www.StaplesMusic.org next Monday (May 20), at 9 a.m. They’re first-come, first-served. For the past 3 years they’ve been snapped up almost instantly.

Like its wintertime cousin — Candlelight — the Pops Concert is a Staples music department gift to the town.

Modeled on Boston Pops’ famed Esplanade series, it features popular classical and contemporary music from the high school’s symphonic orchestra, band, jazz band and Orphenians.

Jim Naughton — emcee for the past 3 concerts — is unavailable this year. Pinch-hitting is one of Westport’s foremost arts patrons, and no stranger to Staples High School: former principal John Dodig.

The Pops Concert is a chance to enjoy great music on the Levitt lawn, greet friends, picnic, and watch the stars of the future as the stars come out.

But first you need tickets. Mark your calendar: Monday, May 20, 9 a.m.!

Candlelight Concert Tickets Available Next Monday

The weather may be cold.

But it’s the hottest ticket in town.

The 78th annual Staples High School Candlelight Concert will pack the auditorium for 3 performances next month: Friday, December 14 (8 p.m.), and Saturday, December 15 (3 p.m. and 8 p.m.).

This annual gift to the Westport community showcases the diverse talents of Staples musicians (and their teachers). There’s music from around the world, and of course the opening processional, inspiring “Hallelujah Chorus” and creative production number.  

Groups performing include Bella Voce, Choralaires, Anima Cantorum, bands and Symphonic Orchestra. 

Because it’s a gift from the Staples music department, tickets are free. But they go very fast. They’re available to the public starting at 9 a.m. this Monday (November 19). Click here then to get yours! 

The always-evocative “Sing We Noel” processional. (Photo by Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

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.