Johnston choirs receive high marks at festival

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Johnston High School’s Concert Choir and Select Choir enjoyed quite a bit of success during the recent Rhode Island Music Education Association’s Choral Festival, which is run by the Rhode Island branch of the American Choral Directors Association.

“Our Concert Choir and Select Choir both received ‘excellent’ ratings,” boasted Ronald Lamoureux, director of the Johnston High School Music Department. “This is all due to the efforts and teaching of Matt Gingras, who directs both student choirs.”

Moreover, as Lamoureux reported: “Senior Jack Frenier served as accompanist for one of the pieces, and he did a fantastic job with a very challenging piano part.”

According to Lamoureux, the festival spans three days and Johnston had some hefty competition, including Narragansett, South Kingstown, Pilgrim of Warwick, Middletown and the Jacqueline M. Walsh School.

The entire Johnston High Music Department enjoyed even more success during its third annual Festival Concert.

“A nice crowd seemed to really enjoy the performance from start to finish, and all our ensembles played very well,” Lamoureux said.

The Lamoureux-led Jazz Band opened the concert with the Thad Jones tune “Groove Machine,” arranged by Rich Sigler, until the Concert Band closed with “The Maelstrom” by Robert W. Smith. The Festival Concert was an overwhelming success and a tribute – in part – to Gingras.

“We started doing the Festival Concert the first year Mr. Gingras started working at the school,” Lamoureux said. “Our intent was to ready ourselves for state and national adjudication festivals, and we’ve done just that.”

As for the closing number, Lamoureux said: “[Smith] is a favorite of many of our music students. The tunes we played by him are exciting with a great blend of percussive and lyrical sections. The arrangements are always packed with a wide range of color and dynamic demands.”

Lamoureux said the school’s music students worked extremely hard to prepare for the third annual Festival Concert and ready a few charts “for the remainder of the school year.”

Senior Ian Quinton Banno, who is the bass player for the Rhode RIMEA Senior Jazz Bands, has been acting as a coach for some of the more inexperienced players, and senior Elizabeth Cruz is the manager for the ensemble, organizing rehearsals that are led by Lamoureux.

“We’ve had some great leadership from those kids and from senior Jack Frenier and junior Joseph Johnson, who are both members of the Music Pathway Programs that are new here at Johnston High School this year,” he said.

Thus, the Gingras-led Concert Choir, which Lamoureux noted is “70 strong,” as well as the AcaPanthers a capella group coached by Gingras during after school rehearsals, provided yet more highlights during the Festival Concert. 

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