Over one hundred talented voices from the Weehawken School District filled the auditorium of Weehawken High School on Friday, April 24, for the third annual District Concert featuring the music programs of all three schools.
“[The district concert] is the brainchild of Superintendent Kevin McLellan,” said Steven Spinosa, director of the high school marching band. “It encompasses all the music programs throughout the district.”
Performing were the choir of Daniel Webster School, which is made up of first and second graders under the direction of music teacher Piero Romano; Theodore Roosevelt School’s bell choir and the Roosevelt School chorus, made up of fifth and sixth graders under the instruction of Music Director Suzanne Chadwick; and the Weehawken High School choir under the direction of Alice Aiello, along with piano accompanist Dominick DiGioia.
Also performing that evening were the Weehawken High School jazz and marching bands, and the high school color guard.
“This is the culminating activity of a year’s worth of work,” said Spinosa. “[The concert] was well attended and the children performed exemplary. They demonstrated immense maturity on the stage and their talents were well received.”
This year the concert drew about 400 guests to the Weehawken High School auditorium, and was free of charge.
The preparation for the concert began in early September and October with meetings between Superintendent McLellan and all the music teachers in the district.
Making their district concert debut were the younger students of the Webster School choir, made up of 50 singers. The group was selected from a pool of 180 students in the music classes, who auditioned at the beginning of the year.
“This year was one of the best,” said Romano, who has been the music teacher at Webster School for five years. “The Webster School choir got a standing ovation when we finished, and everyone was amazed.”
A 20-year veteran teacher in the district, Romano teaches his young students the foundations of music, from notation to rhythm. One of the first things they learn is the Star-Spangled Banner, which is the students’ audition piece, sung acapella.
“The students [selected for the choir] participate in our pull out program, where they get half an hour of vocal lessons [a day] for the choir,” said Romano.
This year the students sang “My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music, along with the French children’s song “Aloueta,” and “What a Wonderful thing Love Is” set to swing music.
“My group was the only one singing in French,” said Romano.
Art in motion
A real crowd pleaser was Weehawken High School’s competition-winning color guard and marching bands.
Both the competition and beginner color guards – under the direction of Michele Giorgio – performed alongside the high school jazz band, the eighth grade beginners’ band, and the marching band under the direction of Steven Spinosa.
“The color guard is part of the marching band,” said Spinosa. “We don’t perform without them and they don’t perform without us.”
“They know this is the big activity of the year, and they really work hard to make sure it is a success.” – Steven Spinosa
According to Spinosa, the district concert has grown quite a bit in the past three years not only in attendance, but in the students’ performances.
“They know this is the big activity of the year, and they really work hard to make sure it is a success,” said Spinosa.
All the participating groups were able to watch the other groups perform. While the first through sixth graders were able to see what is expected at the high school level, the upperclassmen of the high school enjoyed the performances by their younger upcoming counterparts.
“A nice thing at the end of the program is that all the choirs get to sing one finale song,” said Spinosa. “All the district kids are involved doing one number together.”
“Weehawken has one of the best music departments,” said Romano. “I get goose bumps and teary-eyed when we do the finale.”
Jessica Rosero may be reached at email@example.com