Lawmaker's support adds to JHS Music's array of instruments

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People who attend the Johnston High School Music Department’s annual Collage Concert on May 23 will hear some unique sounds from the percussion unit of the Panthers nationally recognized band.

Last Friday, the Panthers band added three djembes – which are African, goblet-shaped drums – to the band’s current collection of world percussion pieces, courtesy of Johnston state Rep. Deborah A. Fellela.

“Matt [Gingras], Oliver [Reed] and I are really thankful for the support we’ve gotten consistently from Rep. Fellela and all the leaders in town,” said Ronald Lamoureux, director of the Music Department. “Deb has been a super supporter for many years; she helped us assemble our marching percussion when we had nothing for our drum line. We represent the town very well at marching venues we visit, and Deb has had a lot to do with that trend.”

Lamouruex pointed out that the Johnston High School Marching Band performs at The Big E in West Springfield, the Johnston Apple Fest, the Columbus Day Parade on Federal Hill and the Memorial Day Parade in North Providence and continues to draw rave reviews during each visit.

“Deb Fellela has helped us build a nice support of world percussion that we use in our drumming class and in many of our classes at the high school,” Lamoureux said. “We’re anxious to add to our impressive collection and give kids some more special opportunities at Johnston High School.”

Fellela, meanwhile, presented Lamoureux and Gingras – as well as students Ivan Fernandez, Samantha Gobeille, Allison Kane and Joseph Johnson – with a Rhode Island legislative grant that will help pay for the three djembes.

“We have equipment that many other communities could only wish for,” Lamouruex said. “We have a piano lab, music tech and production labs including top-notch recording equipment, and high-quality guitar labs with folk, classical, electric guitars and ukuleles …“So much of what we have to offer has been made possible by the [Johnston Schools Music Association], Rep. Fellela, the Town Council and Mayor Polisena.”

The djembes arrived at the school last week. One came from Africa and the other two are from a manufacturer in the United States.

“We even have the talking drum and also many other instruments including kalimba, agogo bells and several caxixi that people will hear [on May 23] during the Collage Concert,” Lamoureux said.

The Collage Concert, which is an annual favorite for Johnston High School musicians, will feature small groups and individuals performing in rapid-fire succession inside the school’s auditorium. The cost of admission will be $5. 

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