MONTVILLE, NJ - The auditorium of Montville High School has been a location not only for school events, but for other community occasions. On Oct. 7, the Montville School of Rock returned to the stage for yet another great musical show.
“We have a brand-new lineup this year, and I’m very proud of them; not just for the musical ability but for how well they get along with each other and the chemistry they create with the audience,” said Anthony Sia, Montville School of Rock advisor and a teacher of graphic design and computer networking for the last 15 years at the high school.
The Montville School of Rock was first founded by Sia 14 years ago as a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching students to perform relevant music together at concerts that raise money for local charities and global causes.
“School of Rock helped me learn how to play in a band and has motivated me to practice more and to do better in school,” said high schooler Olivia Fazio, who plays the ukulele and sings.
The group has performed concerts throughout the year, and supported many causes, including the Montville Township First Aid Squad's Ambulance and the Parent Teacher Council. For the group's most recent concert, efforts were focused on supporting the Gloria Foundation.
The Gloria Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit initiative, based in Fairfield, that provides support to victims of domestic violence. This initiative was first founded in 2014 by Montville’s Karen Arakelian, whose mother Gloria was a domestic violence victim.
“I’m really glad that the Montville School of Rock is doing this concert,” said Arakelian, who serves as president of the foundation. “I appreciate everything and all the support. Anthony Sia takes these kids in and makes them feel good about themselves and their musical ability.”
The concert saw over 60 people in attendance and featured a few special guests, such as former student and 2012 high school graduate, known by her stage name, ALUS.
“I love coming back to the Montville School of Rock because it helped me develop as the artist I’ve become,” said ALUS. “Anthony Sia is giving students a place to nurture. School of Rock is a great program to have in the high school and I hope it’s here forever.”
ALUS has a gained popularity through her YouTube mash-ups and covers as an independent artist, generating more than 12 million views. She continues to record independently at her home studio, gaining new attention every day, while dividing her time for gigs in New Jersey and New York. During the School of Rock concert, she sang a duet of Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie” with rapper Zack Kahn.
Kahn himself is a former student of the high school, graduating in 2015, and an aspiring musical artist who got started in the Montville School of Rock. Since his departure, Kahn has gone on to open for big music artists, such as rapper Gucci Mane at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair. Kahn writes his own material and runs the Avenue Studio with Max Laurenzi, a.k.a. Max-L-Beats. Not to mention, he is the son of Karen Arakelian, and acts as a liaison for the Gloria Foundation.
“School of Rock is a great program that gives kids an opportunity to learn new talents and let them come out of their shells and develop into the artists they become,” said Kahn.
Among other special guests to grace the stage of the high school auditorium was drummer and percussionist Taylor Moore.
“I love it here,” said Moore, who has known Sia as a friend for many years and done several shows with the School of Rock. “I’m always glad to be part of something that helps people in need. School [of Rock] is a pleasure and experience for the Montville Township High School.”
Originally from Chicago, Moore lives in Paterson and is an award-winning motivational speaker, drummer/ percussionist, singer, songwriter and producer. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she received a Bachelor's in Music Performance and Production. She plays and produces a number of genres from jazz, gospel, blues, R&B, funk and much, much more.
By the end of the night, the Montville School of Rock collected a total of $520 for the Gloria Foundation, which often goes towards providing safe houses for victims of domestic violence. In the last five years, the Foundation has donated over $150,000 to such victims and survivors.
“I’m really happy we were able to perform for the Gloria Foundation and can’t wait to see what happens as the year unfolds,” said Sia.
Grace Rock performs for the benefit concert.
For more information on the Montville School of Rock and their upcoming shows and activities, visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/msorrocks/.
And for more information about the Gloria Foundation, visit their website at http://www.thegloriafoundation.org/.
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