Some 15 years ago, as Ronald Lamoureux remembers, “a handful of dedicated, passionate kids started Chapter 4009 of the Tri-M Music Honor Society here at Johnston.”
The students took a pledge, the long-serving JHS Music Department chair said, “in order to foster a greater continued interest and a desire for excellence in music performance, to encourage appreciation and awareness in listening to music and to promote wider opportunities within the school community.”
Since then, the JHS Music Department has grown to become nationally-recognized and among the best in Rhode Island while its membership numbers are at an all-time.
On a recent Wednesday evening, Chapter 4009 held its annual Spring Recital which was preceded by an impressive awards ceremony held inside a small section of JHS’ auditorium.
As Matt Gingras, Choir Director for the JHS Music Department explained: “The Tri-M Music Honor Society is a student driven organization. It works like this: students nominate peers they see excelling in the music department and school as a whole. Those that are being honored here tonight have been selected on the basis of five points of distinction.”
Gingras, who has helped further develop JHS music offerings since his arrival several years ago, said those points are: “Scholarship, Character, Cooperation, Leadership and Service.”
The JHS Choir Director also noted that Tri-M is the only national honor society for student musicians in the country.
“It highlights our school’s music program and gives students the opportunity to perform, lead and serve,” Gingras added. “A Tri-M Music Honor Society Chapter opens up a world of opportunities for students who have already shown to be academically capable and musically gifted.”
As Gingras and Lamoureux said, “Through performance and community service, the students will develop confidence, creativity, critical thinking, compassion and a host of other leadership skills sure to serve them well in school and beyond.”
The recent induction ceremony, which in some ways resembled the JHS National Honor Society Induction, was done in two parts: the actual induction followed by the Spring Recital.
The list of Senior Members includes: Ben Budway, Lismar Torres, Lauren Papa, Abigail Heiser, Emily Gaye and Matt Eisemann. Returning members are: Josh Brien, Jack Frenier, Elizabeth Cruz, Zach Zambarano, Sam Gobeille, Daniel Cambranes and Anthony Andriole.
Gingras announced that five JHS music students – Ian Quinton Banno, Stephanie McCoy, Olivia Scuncio, Ashlee Costa and Carolos Fragoso – are the new members in the Tri-M Music Honor Society Chapter 4009.
Once the induction ceremony concluded, students take a part in the recital. They each pick a piece of music and perform it during the recital, that this year was accompanied by Alex Tirrell, a professional pianist who graduated from RIC and new directs musicals throughout the state.
In keeping with the tradition of JHS music excellence, the recital part of Tri-M’s chapter induction was nothing less than special.
Likewise, a few of the individual performances stood out, according to Lamoureux who noted that “the recital is exciting and scary at the same time. The kids are usually on stage in a large ensemble – there’s strength and comfort in a group. The recital puts kids on an island and for some it’s the first time that they really feel all those eyes on them.”
But as the veteran JHS band director noted, “The performances of Lismar Torres, Benjamin Budway, Ian Quinton Banno and Abigail Heiser really stood out.”
“Lismar played from the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with a beautiful tone and her classmate Benjamin Budway was flawless in his performance,” Lamoureux said. “Ian (Quinton Banno) had some very interesting lines and use of harmonics in his double bass solo. He is a very strong base player.”
Lamoureux then stated: “Perhaps the hit of the night was Abigail Rain-Heiser’s She Used to Be Mine from the Broadway musical Waitress. It was very moving and you could see the audience leaning into the stage to be part of the performance. It has been awesome to watch these kids grow each year.”
Heiser is also president of the Tri-M Chapter 4009 while Budway is vice president. Cruz and Zambarano served as secretary and treasurer respectively and Gaye is the historian.
The Tri-M Recital was dedicated to the memory of Rachel Carson, so read one of the lines on the printed program. “Her passion and dedication to music is felt throughout the department. Rachel’s indelible spirit will live on through our music.”