Friday, May 27, 2005
CCHS music teacher Chuck Brown says goodbye at final chorus concert
The final song of the evening was still an hour away the first time the audience spontaneously rose to its feet for a standing ovation.
"What are they doing?" Chuck Brown says he asked his wife Patty, who had been summoned to the front of the auditorium to stand next to him.
"It's for you," she said.
The audience of parents and patrons of the music program at Concord-Carlisle High School was showing its appreciation for a beloved teacher who recently made the announcement that he is leaving CCHS after six years as a music and drama teacher to take on the role of Fine and Performing Arts Director for the Natick Public Schools next fall. The annual Pops Concert, which was held last Thursday evening, May 19, was Brown's last concert at the high school.
The ovation came during a break in the program, after musical numbers by the co-ed Select Ensemble, Women's Ensemble and Men's Ensemble, and a spirited medley of songs from the musical Rent, performed by all 230 members of the combined chorus classes at CCHS. The sheer number of students nearly overflowing the stage and risers was one obvious testament to the success of Brown's influence at the school. When he started in the fall of 1999, there were approximately 80 students in the chorus, and none of the small ensembles existed. Brown has also built up the drama department at the school, directing several small plays and a large musical every year.
There were tears in the eyes of many parents and students as the four past, present and future parent presidents of CCPOPS (Concord Carlisle Patrons of Performing Students) bid their farewells to Brown and flowers were presented.
"We can't thank Chuck enough for his wonderful years of music," said Margie Zuk of Carlisle, the current CCPOPS president. "We will all carry memories with us for a lifetime."
Brown says he was both touched and embarrassed by the tribute. He was also eager to deflect the attention. "In the back of my mind, I was trying not to make it a night about me. This concert is always about the seniors. It's their show," he says.
Observing a tradition he started when the number of seniors was a third of what it is today, Brown bid a public farewell to the seniors (nearly 60 of them), taking the time to convey specific memories of each student individually.
The students reciprocated by presenting the traditional "senior song:" a medley of chorus songs featuring re-written lyrics offering creative reflections on their years in chorus. The class of 2005 poked fun at Brown's weight loss regimen, his bad jokes, and the fact that when they leave "we're taking Brown with us."
The tone of the long evening turned serious again as Brown invited all chorus alumni in the audience to join the students on the risers for another tradition: the singing of the song "The Awakening."
"Let music never die in me, forever let my spirit sing," they sang, lyrics from "The Awakening." Many of the students wiped tears from their eyes, and after the song came another standing ovation.
"It was incredible to feel that kind of outpouring, to see that
I made that much of a difference," Brown says. "But I still
don't get it. I'm just a teacher, and this is what we do."
© 2005 The Carlisle Mosquito