If the appreciative audience of 250-plus people who took in the Johnston High School Music Department’s 2021 Christmas Concert closed their eyes, they probably could have envisioned sitting inside the Providence Performing Arts Center or Trinity Repertory Theater.
In short, the sounds were what people like Johnston School Committee Chairman Robert LaFazia and other town officials as well as proud parents concurred: “were smooth, special and super and professionally presented and performed by a group of multi-talented (JHS) musicians and vocalists.”
As the Ron Lamoureux-directed JHS band closed out an extraordinarily entertaining evening with Larry Kirchner’s energetic arrangement of “I Saw Three Ships” that resulted in a well-deserved standing ovation, several people emphasized while leaving the JHS auditorium: “It’s no wonder this music department has earned a national award-winning reputation.”
Everyone — from volunteer Tech Club members who helped with various set changes to members of the Tri-M Music Honor Society serving as ushers and handed out programs, the Johnston School Music Association members who performed a myriad of duties, to Tim Hecker, a student-teacher who took the podium and directed two movements of Randall D. Standridge’s “Christmas Village” — the night was a five-star plus performance.
It was an event during which the vocal groups of Chorus-Choir Director Matt Gingras’ talented troupers were well-received and as Lamoureux offered: “Everyone should be proud of these two ensembles tonight.”
Likewise, the Treble Choir took the stage and stepped up with Mozart’s Veni Sancte Spiritus and the beautiful “Where the Light Begins” by Ola Gjeilo, there were more rave reviews for the large Concert Chorus that closed out the first half of the show with “That’s Christmas to Me” arranged by Mark Brymer.
And that, and more, all happened on a night that began with preparations as soon as Homecoming was over and, in fact, had several interruptions such as the JHS freshmen not being allowed to play a single note last year because of COVID-19, but worked tirelessly and reached new levels for this year’s Christmas Concert.
Perhaps Lamoureux, who has led the JHS Music Department to among the all-time best in Rhode Island, said it best about the undergrads who participate in the Panther program.
“The attitudes have been excellent and we have some great leadership from our veterans who have been eager to guide the way for our younger musicians,” he offered. “Everyone is extremely proud of what we’ve been able accomplish to this point of the school year.”
Take senior Mackenzie Hanna, who welcomed the audience and the Concert Chorus that that opened the show with “White Winter Hymnal” that Lamouerux said was made popular by Pentatonix and led the group during “Veni, Veni, Emmanuel” by Michael John Trotta and “Glow” by Eric Whittacre who is a favorite of Mgr. Gingras; she was wonderful.”
There were many other special stars in the show, such as senior Victor Fragoso tuned up the band followed by Lamouruex taking the stage and leading the musicians in “Winter Wonderland” arranged by Mike Story then followed up with a setting of an old French carol “Un Flambeau Jeanette Isabella.”
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