PELHAM STUDENTS KEEP THE MUSIC PLAYING Spring concerts fill local auditoriums with sweet sounds of talented children

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PELHAM — The gymnasium was sweltering hot, but hundreds of parents still packed in to watch their children perform in the Memorial Middle School Music Department’s Annual Spring Concert.

The show featured chorus and band performance by students in grades six through eight and a special appearance by the school’s elite jazz band.

“The jazz band is spectacular. Everyone always talks about how great they are, and they are adorable with their little tuxedos,” said Valerie LaBonte of Pelham.

LaBonte’s daughter, 13-year-old Ashley LaBonte, is a member of the chorus. The show is a really big deal for the students, and nerves were flying before it.

Ashley, a seventh-grader, gets so nervous she can’t eat, and spends the hours leading up to her performance diligently practicing her songs, her mother said.

In anticipation of Memorial Day weekend, the seventh- and eighth-grade band kicked off the evening with Francis Scott Key’s “Star-Spangled Banner.”

“The concert is a wonderful way to support the arts,” said Instrumental Director Paul Santerre.

The concert bands, jazz band and chorus recently competed and won honors at the 2006 Six Flags New England Competition.

Parents at the spring concert had the honor of hearing students perform their award-winning traditional selections such as “Fire Dance” by Douglas Akey, “Shenandoah” by Robert Sheldon and “ Olympia” by Brian Balmages.

The music department also recently participated in the New Hampshire Large Group Music Festival sponsored by the New Hampshire Music Educators Association. Several middle-school and high-school orchestras and bands from all over New Hampshire participated.

The Sixth-Grade Band, directed by Miss Tiffany Evans, received overall B ratings at this festival. The Seventh- and Eighth-Grade Band, directed by Paul A. Santerre, received A’s and a B+ from all three judges and an A in sight reading. Both bands received New Hampshire State certificates for their performances, and the seventh- and eighth-graders received a plaque for their overall A rating.

The Pelham Elementary School on Tuesday held its instrumental spring concert featuring the fifth-grade beginning band.

On Thursday Pelham High School held its annual spring concert featuring the school’s instrumental groups.

Have a story idea? Contact Heidi Smith at (978)970-4635 or e-mail at hsmith@thevalleydispatch.com.