PARKLAND, FL - Composer, conductor and pianist Leonard Bernstein believed that music was one of the most effective means of creating understanding and peace in the world and that by nurturing music and art, there could be a world "in which the mind will have triumphed over violence."  Bernstein said, "This will be our reply to violence:  to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before."  It is in this spirit that Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, alumni, and nationally recognized composers and musicians will come together for Our Reply, a benefit concert, on June 1 in Coral Springs.  The concert will be presented by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Band and Guard and is sponsored by the MSD Band Alumni Association.  Profits from the concert will support the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Band, the Alex Schachter Scholarship Fund and the Gina Montalto Memorial Foundation.

Attorney Craig Pugatch, an alumni of Marjory Stoneman Douglas (class of 1996), former member and drum major of the Band, and one of the National Directors of Mobilizing MSD Alumni, is helping to organize the event with Luis Piccinelli, Director of Bands at Coral Springs Middle School.  They are working in direct partnership with Alex Kaminsky, Director of Bands at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.  

Pugatch said, "Luis Piccinelli and I were coordinating on another concert idea.  Following the events of February 14, Luis and I watched with awe as the the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Band got back to their efforts of making amazing music, including their long planned trip to Carnegie Hall very soon after the shooting.   Musicians continuously strive to inspire and speak to the world through their art, and that is precisely what these amazing students and Alex Kaminsky were doing with the MSD Band Program.  When we began to think about our efforts on our prior concert project, it was a no brainer for us to shift gears and channel the amazing momentum of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Band to create a concert that will be a memorable musical experience for the audience and an amazing artistic and educational experience for the students." 

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He said, "Bernstein profoundly noted, 'We musicians, like everyone else, are numb with sorrow at this murder, and with rage at the senselessness of the crime. But this sorrow and rage will not inflame us to seek retribution; rather they will inflame our art. Our music will never again be quite the same. This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.'  When we thought of Leonard Bernstein's amazing words, the direction of the concert was clear.  Bernstein truly believed that music was one of the most effective means of creating understanding and peace in the world."

"His words could not be more resonant today as we look for ways to heal after the senseless violence at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.  The students, parents, and teachers of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Band Program have embodied Bernstein's immortal words, replying to violence by immediately continuing to make music.  Through music we honor the memory of the members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Band and Color Guard who were taken from us too soon, and demonstrate the uplifting and healing power of music.  This concert is an embodiment of Bernstein’s profound message – creating music 'more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.' There is no better way to heal from the worst in humanity than by demonstrating the creative potential that lies within the uplifting power of music," Pugatch said.

At Our Reply, nationally recognized composers and musicians will perform, compose, and assist with the concert and the students will have the opportunity to make music with some of the top musicians in the country.   Special guest artists will include Joseph Alessi and Anthony McGill from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra; composer Andrew Boss; and composers/conductors Frank Ticheli and Johan de Meij, as well as Gary Green, Director of Bands Emeritus at the University of Miami.  The performance will include a world premiere of a composition dedicated to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Pugatch said, "One of the greatest joys to a musician is to share their art and message with an audience. The biggest way people can help is by purchasing tickets and supporting these students performance."

Our Reply will take place on Friday, June 1, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Church of the Glades, 400 Lakeview Drive, in Coral Springs.

Tickets and donation opportunities may be found at https://msdband.ticketleap.com/.  

"We hope that this concert is one piece in the continued healing of the MSD Community and we believe that the audience and students will have an impactful and memorable musical experience," Pugatch said.