The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 10, 2009

Carlisle comes away with MICCA gold, several times over


Carlisle music teacher Megan Fitzharris Harlow directed the Middle School Chorus at MICCA on April 4. (Courtesy photo)

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The Carlisle Middle School Choir and Concert Band and the Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) Concert Band all received gold awards for their performances over the three-day Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association (MICCA) Festival held last weekend.

The Carlisle Middle School music groups were the big winners. What made this year special was the enthusiastic praise the judges, or adjudicators as they are called, gave to both groups and to their leaders, Carlisle music teachers Megan Fitzharris Harlow and Deana Saada-Smith. This is the first time since previous band director Tom O’Halloran retired that the Carlisle Middle School band, under the direction of Saada-Smith, has achieved gold.

All three groups have been invited to perform at Symphony Hall in Boston along with other gold medal winners during the program Stars at Symphony 2009. The two-day event will be held April 18 and 25 and is free and open to the public. Performance times have not yet been announced.

Middle School Choir

The chorus performed on Saturday, April 4, at the Coakley Middle School in Norwood, one of nine groups, from elementary to high school, to perform in the morning. Of the nine groups, three received a gold level award, which, according to the MICCA, is “awarded to those groups that perform at a superior level.” The band performed on Sunday, April 5, at the Lexington High School. Of the four groups performing on Sunday only Carlisle and the Concord-Carlisle High School Concert Band received gold.

After their performances, groups are invited to participate in a clinic with an adjudicator who will give them feedback on their work. The choir joined MICCA Adjudicator Lorraine Lynch who told the group, “This is probably the best middle school choir I have heard.” Lynch, a Performing Arts Lead Teacher at the Roxbury Township School in New Jersey, said, “This is a model middle school choir. It’s really fabulous. You should feel really proud of this. Whoever is going to be your high school choir director should be really happy.” She asked Harlow about her background and training, and then told the group, “None of this could have happened without someone at the top knowing what they are doing.” She complimented the students on their pronunciation of Spanish in their first piece, “Yo Le Canto Todo El Dia,” and their change in tone in the Russian piece “Kalinka.” She declared second piece, “How Can I Keep From Singing?” perfect, and said it was “really beautiful and sensitive.”

Lynch urged Harlow to submit a CD of the group to the American Choral Director’s Association annual conferences. “From the moment you walked on stage,” she told the group, “you showed me you were a classy group.”

Middle School Concert Band

The Concert Band met with adjudicator Dr. Elizabeth Jackson, Director of Bands at Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota. According to Saada-Smith, Jackson noted that the band sounded better than many high school bands and compared the band to a great car, such as a Mercedes, Cadillac or Ferrari. She said it was one of the best middle school bands she had heard, and that listening to them was “the highlight of [her] weekend.” She complimented Carlisle parents on their support in encouraging their kids to take private lessons, Saada-Smith said. And she complimented Saada-Smith on the work she has done with the band.

CCHS Concert Band

The CCHS Concert Band has received gold for 18 consecutive years. Band Director Alfred Dentino wrote in an email message, “I would like to offer my congratulations to the students and families of our Repertory and Concert Bands for their outstanding achievements at this past weekend’s MICCA Concert Festival.”

Dentino noted that 147 bands and orchestras performed at six sites across the state while 87 choruses performed at two sites. At least 12,000 students participated in the weekend MICCA Festival.

Adjudicators from around the country come to evaluate the bands, orchestras and choruses. The gold medal is awarded to groups that perform at a superior level. The silver medal is awarded to groups that perform at an excellent level and bronze medals go to groups that perform at a good level. Medals of Merit are awarded to groups that play at an acceptable and fair level.

CCHS Repertory Band

“The Concord-Carlisle Repertory Band earned a silver medal on an afternoon where the adjudicators awarded one gold, two silvers and five Medals of Merit,” explained Dentino, emphasizing how critical the evaluations of the bands were. He noted the students have shown “incredible growth in the past few weeks, and especially for the entire school year.”

Chorus and Select Choir

Two singing groups from CCHS, the Combined Chorus and the Select Choir were awarded bronze medals for their performances. “My kids performed really well,” wrote Choral Director Debbie Smith in an email, “I’m very proud of them.” ∆

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