West Orange Music Faculty Scholarship Concert Raises the Roof at Liberty Middle School

"Iko Iko" in celebration of Mardi Gras with Music Faculty members. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Elena Peres and the WOHS Royal Strings Orchestra. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
John Hellyer, Dave Rimelis and Jay Gitter perform "Over the Rainbow." Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Dan O'Dea, Craig Stanton, Joel Perry and Dave Rimelis perform "St. Anne's Reel." Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Lou Quagliato lets loose on tenor sax.   Credits: Cynthia Cumming
WOBOE Jazz Band: Virginia Mayhew, Lou Quagliato, Joel Perry, Roger Bryson, Joe Romano, Ryan Krewer, Ron Naspo, Pat Cuttitta perform "Tenor Madness." Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE. NJ - The 12th Annual Music Faculty Scholarship Concert, held Tuesday evening, Feb. 12, rocked Liberty Middle School with a mix of music ranging from Vivaldi, Mozart and Bach, to Sondheim, The Shins, and Psy.

Jay Gitter of Liberty Middle School was the emcee for the evening, and he brought his unique sense of humor to the event. He opened the evening with an emotional  performance of "Out There," dedicating it to everyone who wanted to just be themselves and belong.  

Elena Peres, strings teacher at WOHS brought the WOHS Royal Strings Orchestra with her to perform "Winter" by Vivaldi.

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Erin McClure (WOHS) on clarinet, and Andrea Rommel on flute dueted on "Andante and Menuetto" by Mozart.

John Hellyer, also of Liberty Middle School, touched the audience with his lilting tenor voice and rendition of "Being Alive" from Stephen Sondheim's "Company."

Craig Stanton (stand up bass), Dan O'Dea (EMS - violin) , Betsy Maliszewski (Gregory - violin) and Dave Rimelis (LMS - viola) covered The Shins "New Slang." 

Gitter, Hellyer and Rimelis then took to the stage to perform "Over the Rainbow," with Rimelis on ukelele.

Rimelis remained onstage to introduce O'Dea, Joey Perry, and Stanton, who joined him for a traditional and lively version of "St. Anne's Reel."

Ryan Krewer then introduced the next selection, "Circus Maximus" which he composed and arranged. He played trumpet and was joined by Joe Romano (EMS)  and Scott Tomlin (St. Cloud)  on trumpet, and Lew Kelly (WOHS) on tuba, and Lisa Swanick (WOHS) on euphonium.

Joel Perry of Redwood played two beautiful guitar instrumentals; the first was "Orchestral Suite #3 in D Major," by Bach, and the second, "Chega de Saudade (No More Blues) by Antonio Jobim.

The musical high point of the evening came as the entire faculty joined onstage to celebrate Mardi Gras with "Iko Iko" by James "Sugar Boy" Crawford, wearing masks and tossing necklaces into the audience. As they played they walked, New Orleans Jazz Band-style, around the auditorium.

Roger Bryson, on saxophone and vocals, was joined by Lou Quagliato (Director of Fine Arts) on tenor sax, Joel Perry on guitar, Ron Naspo on bass, and Pat Cuttitta on drum for "My One and Only" by Guy Wood and Robert Mellen. He dedicated the song to his wife "his one and only true love."

The evening culminated with two numbers by the "WOBOE Jazz Ensemble" (Naspo, Cuttitta, Perry, Quagliato, Bryson, Romano, Krewer, and Nikhil Badlani Foundation Music Enrichment instructor Virginia Mayhew on tenor sax) for Sonny Rollins' "Tenor Madness" and Chick Corea's "Spain," which was arranged by Ryan Krewer.

Although the event was free, donations were accepted and will be used for scholarships to be presented to graduating seniors at WOHS who plan to pursue music.

Editor's note: several faculty members who performed work at multiple schools in the West Orange School District; others work at only one, as noted above.

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