Arts & Entertainment

South Plainfield Middle School Musicians Heat Up the Stage at The Annual Spring Concert

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SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The Middle School Band, Orchestra and Chorus performed their Annual Spring Concert with grace and precision showcasing the past year’s dedication to their music despite the rising temperatures of the gymnasium. 

“I am very proud of both the 7th and 8th grade band,” said South Plainfield Middle School Band Director Andrew Veiss.  “Both groups came so far this year and both performed exceptionally, especially in the heat.”

The evening began with the GEMs led by Middle School Choral Director Shannon Maddolin.  After their rendition of Star Spangled Banner arranged by Grant School Band and Choral Director Joan Stasio, the group sang several selections, including Pie Jesu by Greg Gilpin, an angelic flowing melody, and I Won’t Give Up by Roger Emerson, a beautiful and powerful song about inner strength.  They closed with Feel Good featuring soloist Allison Citalon, who recently won an award as outstanding soloist at the group’s Dorney Park competition.  The group clapped enthusiastically along with the upbeat music.

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The 7th Grade Orchestra was next with South Plainfield Middle School Orchestra Director Sarah LiVecchi conducting.  They began with Gargoyles, by Doug Spata.  Strumming in unison, the melody enveloped the audience.  They also played Slane arranged by Soon Hee Newbold.  They closed with a flawless performance of the familiar and popular hit Viva La Vida by Coldplay as arranged by Larry Moore.

The 7th Grade Concert Choir then took to the bleachers that stood before the stage.  The enormous group sang Stronger Together by Eliot Kennedy and Gareth Malone, a song that emphasized that together it is possible to overcome anything.  They then played the gentle and flowing When I Close My Eyes by Jim Papoulis.  They ended with Feel Good Medley by L. Craig Tyson and Leonard Scott.  The three songs evoked messages of love, grace and rejoicing.

“The Spring Concert is always an enjoyable experience for the music department,” said Middle School Choral Director Shannon Maddolin.  “It is a culmination of all the things that we have been working on over the past one or two years at the middle school.  The 7th grade students did an outstanding job of showing their growth from this year and are simply excited with new expectations for their 8th grade year.” 

The 7th Grade Concert Band took their seats on stage with Mr. Andrew Veiss conducting, the South Plainfield Middle School Band Director.  The band began with Jungle Dance by Brian Balmages, a vivacious song about animals, plants and people coming together for a celebration in the jungle.  They also played the patriotic National Fencibles March by John Philip Sousa and ended with a Michael Jackson Hit Mix arranged by Johnnie Vinson.  The mix included the well known songs, Billy Jean, Beat It, Bad and Thriller.

 The 8th Grade Orchestra then took their places.  Conductor Sarah LiVecchi raised her baton and the orchestra started their portion of the evening with the quick moving Wired as written by Lauren Bernofsky.  The bows of the orchestra furiously moved up and down their instruments.  They then played a beautiful rendition of the American Folk song Follow the Drinking Gourd as arranged by Carrie Lane Gruselle.

Mrs. LiVecchi lifted the microphone to speak before their final selection saying with heartfelt emotion, “These students played so well at the Dorney Park Competition last week.  This is the eighth graders’ last performance here and these kids behind me are so awesome.  I’m so proud to have them.  I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for them through high school and beyond so here’s our last piece.”

The Orchestra closed with their last song at South Plainfield Middle School, Galena-Milwaukee Breakdown by Catherine McMichael, a flowing melody that featured the skills of the students as they cascaded up and down the scales with ease.

The 8th Grade Concert Choir was up after the orchestra led by Conductor Shannon Maddolin.  The large group filed into their places on the bleachers.  They began with Stand Together by Jim Papoulis.  With power they sang at the top of their voices “Sing Sing Sing!”.  They also sang Alice’s Theme, as arranged by Mac Huff.  The difficult selection from the well known movie featured the soaring voices of the students.  Their last selection was Sing by Pentatonix, an emotional close to a beautiful performance.

“As the 8th grade students continue on to the High School, they reflect on all they have learned from the music department here at the Middle School,” said Maddolin.   “Their final performance was one of pride and great growth.  I look forward to seeing what they accomplish at the High School level with such a talented strong group of students.”

The 8th Grade then took their places led by Conductor Andrew Veiss.  “I am always sad to see the 8th grade students go, but I take solace in the hope that everyone is continuing,”  said Veiss.  “They are leaving my program, but I get to see how our band effects the high school when I attend the high school concerts.”

The eighth grade woodwinds set the tone as they began with the driving beat of Marche Diabolique by Brian Balmages.  The band then played A Nation’s Prayer by George W. Warren and William Steffe, a beautiful and moving tribute to honor those who have served and are serving our nation in the military. 

Mr. Veiss congratulated the band on their extraordinary performance in the recent Dorney Park competition placing first in many categories.  Then 8th grader, Baritone Saxophone player and Band Secretary Jack Anderson approached the microphone to introduce their final piece.

“This is our last piece together as a band,” said Anderson.  “I’d like to say that this is the best experience I have ever had with a band and I will deeply miss all my band members and Mr. Veiss.”

Closing the evening, they played Aggressivo by Randall Standridge.  The students played the fast-paced selection with confidence ending with a powerful crescendo.

“The experience I had at the Spring Concert was very exciting because I feel our band did the best we can,” said eighth grade student Riley Shaw.  “It was also very sad because it was the last performance of our 8th grade year.  I feel my group did great, we had fixed all of our mistakes and we watched our dynamics of each piece we played.”

The Middle School musicians left the audience applauding wildly.  The students were proud of their accomplishments and are ready to continue their musical adventures next year.

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