MADISON, NJ—At least 1,000 parents crowded the hallways Saturday as hundreds of kids rushed down the hallways with music stands and instruments in tow. The doors to the Madison High School gymnasium were now open as people flooded in for Madison's Mega MusicPalooza.
From the MHS guitar ensemble to the elementary school orchestra, more than 20 performances were held throughout this day-long music extravaganza, which ran from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and ended with a final grand finale where every student—about 800 of them, grades 4-12—played an original patriotic medley.
“The teachers needed something that was going to be written for a lot of different levels,” said Helen Raymaker of Madison Music & Arts, a parent-run nonprofit that co-hosted the event with the Madison Visual and Performing Arts Department.
The medley included songs like “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” and “America the Beautiful” was written by composer Joe Elefante, whose wife directs the high school chorus, and commissioned and funded in 2015 by the Madison Education Foundation through its grants system.
A wide selection of snacks were also available for purchase inside the high school cafeteria, and event admission was free of charge. All snack monies collected will go toward music and arts programs in Madison schools, according to the district.
The Mega MusicPalooza is an important opportunity for younger musicians to see and hear each other perform, the district said in a March 6 letter to parents announcing the event.
“Last time we had this event I heard that there were some young girls that were singing that watched some of the HS kids in their concert gowns,” Raymaker said. “They were blown away by how they sounded and how they looked onstage.”
“That is part of the reason we do this event, so that kids can see what they are able to aim for and parents can also see what is coming next,” she said.
This event follows Madison's recent designation as one of the "Best Communities for Music Education" for the fourth consecutive year by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation for its "outstanding" efforts to provide every student access to music education.