SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Spotswood High School's annual performance of the Festivus Brass Choir at the borough's tree lighting was canceled due to inclement weather earlier this month, but the group got to open up the 2018 Winter Concert at the Spotswood High School Cafetorium yesterday. The group featured Spotswood High School Band Director Sarah Carino-Koza along with Spotswood High School musicians, Skylar Provell, Gabriela Zeron, Melanie Miller, Ronald Contard, Nick Komosinski, Jonathan Wasserman, Michael Ciaccio, Maia Revilla, Megan McCook, Jada Fenner and Jeremiah Lalicon playing a lively selection of holiday carols. Their fun opening number set the tone for an enjoyable evening of music that featured an eclectic mix of holiday tunes from the Concert Band's wonderful performance of Tchaikovsky's "Themes from The Nutcracker Suite" to the Honors Wind Ensemble's always timely and poignant "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Highlights from the concert included a soprano solo from Clara Melvin who also plays mallets with the Concert Band and a unique flute and piano performance from Carino-Koza and Memorial Middle School Music and Band Director Christina Restine. The pair are now colleagues within the Spotswood School District, but Carino-Koza is Restine's former band director from when Restine was a student at Spotswood High School.

The evening also included the conducting debut of Aleyna Ashenfarb. Ashenfarb is a student teacher with the high school's music program from Ithaca College. She hails from Marlboro and has been working with the Honors Wind Ensemble on selections from "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Ashenfarb conducted the ensemble's toe-tapping performance of the piece in last night's concert.

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A SHS winter concert would not be complete without its signature performance of Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride." It is a music program tradition for all current band students as well as alumni to come up on stage to play the classic holiday tune with all of the current seniors sporting Santa hats. Last year's alumni included former band members from recent Spotswood High School graduating classes as well as alumni from as far back as 2009 and 2012. Carino-Koza has been the band director at the school for the past 16 years.

Members of the Honors Wind Ensemble will be performing alongside Carino-Koza and Restine this weekend at the Milltown Senior Center when the educators and students join the Central Jersey Wind Ensemble for a benefit concert for the Milltown Historical Society on December 15 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors. Children under 12 are free. All of the proceeds will go to benefit the Milltown Historical Society.