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Newfound students perform for Bristol's Bicentennial

Directed by Brett Branscombe and accompanied by Phillip Breton, the Newfound Memorial Middle School and Newfound Regional High School bands performed for Bristol's special Bicentennial Concert last Wednesday evening. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
April 17, 2019
BRISTOL – Students from Newfound Regional High School and Newfound Memorial Middle School meshed their talents together on Wednesday, April 10, to present a Bristol Bicentennial Concert for the community through vocal and band performances. Leading the students in the combined concert were NRHS Band and Chorus Director Ed Judd, NMMS band director Jenn Stevens and NMMS Choral Director Brett Branscombe. Accompanying Branscombe for chorus that evening was pianist Phillip Breton.

The concert was filled with music pertinent not just to 1819 when Bristol was incorporated as a town but also to the lake community that Bristol is known as and the patriotism that filled the nation 200 years ago. In that vein, the middle school band kicked off the evening with their performance of "Legend of the Lake" by Alan Lee Silva. Old American Songs such as "The Boatmen's Dance" and "Simple Gifts" were sung by the NMMS chorus, followed by the high school band's musical presentation of "Heroic Variations" from Beethoven.

Poetry of the era came into play with Douglas Wagner's musical composition "Road Not Taken," and the NRHS chorus then sang the words of Henry Longfellow in the song "Snow," something that certainly hits home with residents of Bristol each winter.

"Remembering New England" and "Dear Land of Home" were two other musical and choral performances before the concert brought a more personal touch to the evening.

Beatrice Evelyn Thompson was a music composer in the early 1920's who lived in Bristol and the area inspired her works. As a tribute to her during this bicentennial year the NMMS chorus sang her song, "Can't You Understand." All four musical groups then joined together for a choral/orchestral piece titled "Pasquaney by Moonlight;" a hauntingly beautiful yet striking composition inspired by an evening on Newfound Lake.

Judd explained to the audience that the music was not entirely original however. As he set out to transcribe her music from piano to a vocal and orchestral presentation he found it didn't all work as he had hoped. Therefore, he then made a few alterations in portions of the music, enhanced by the haunting calls of a loon at both the beginning and end. His artistry resulted in a standing ovation from not just the crowd but the performers as well.

"Blue Ridge Reel" from the middle school band then harkened the audience back to the days of a traditional music/dance genre before the high school band took over to salute all from Newfound who have served in the military with their "Armed Forces Salute."

Closing out the night was the premier performance of Judd's own composition, "Bristol Bicentennial March." Since it was his work, Judd stepped aside for the finale and left the direction of the combined middle and high school bands up to Stevens. As everyone tapped their feet to the bold sounds of the march, Judd sat back and enjoyed the fruits of his labors.

"I've been working on the music for this performance for two years now. It's quite an event," he said.

In total, 66 choral members from both schools and 85 band members took part in the event before a standing room only crowd in the high school gymnasium.

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Varney Smith
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