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BSE’s Sandy carter on ‘Kids in Concert’ at 10

Areia-logoThe Flow catches up with BSE music teacher Sandy Carter on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Kids In Concert, set for Thursday, April 30, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Mohawk’s auditorium. Music students from all our elementary schools will join in for an evening of great performances…


THE BSE FLOW: What’s it like preparing for the 10-year anniversary of Kids in Concert?

SANDY CARTER: First of all, I’m very excited it’s the 10th. Because when we first started we had no idea that we would do this every year for 10 years. So it’s kind of cool that we have this consistent, ongoing thing.

The other neat thing about it is we have some things that are exactly the same from the first and some things that have changed, and this particular concert some things that I’m excited about is that we’re bringing back a couple of the pieces we originally played in the first one, for example, the “Ode to Joy,” which is one of my all-time favorite pieces of music, written by Beethoven, and to do that again like we did 10 years ago, it’s very exciting.

Concert-CarterThe other thing I’m really excited about is that we have a piece of music that we did in the very first concert, and we gave it to Alice Parker, who is a very well-known composer who happens to live right near here, and that she has written a new arrangement of the song that we did the first time. So we’re doing the same song but with a new arrangement. And she will be there to hear it.

The third thing is that we haven’t kept track of how many students I’ve had participating but I am really excited about BSE participating because I was just counting and getting everybody’s permission slip, and there’s just about 50 kids from BSE participating, and that seems to me like a really good anniversary number.

BSE FLOW: How do you feel? A little nervous, or…

SANDY CARTER: You always get nervous when you perform no matter how many times you’ve done it, whether you’re a fifth-grade flute player or a piano player or a conductor who’s been playing for many, many, many years. You always have that little bit of nervousness.

But I always like to think that’s important because it makes you stay focused: That keeps you in the game and not treat the concert like it’s just something else. It gives it that special feeling. Even though I’ve conducted “Ode to Joy” before it’s with a whole new group of people, so it could be completely different than how we’ve done it before. So that part makes me nervous and excited.

Dance Generators move assembly

Teachers Mary Johansmeyer, left, and Trish Perlman mirror each other’s movements at an exhibition of The Dance Generators at BSE April 7. Johansmeyer, who teaches physical education, said she loved how Maureen Shea presented the exercise to the kids. She said the kids picked up on the motions and that she incorporated some of these into her gymnastics unit. “I was amazed how agile and fluid and graceful the [intergenerational] dancers were,” she added.
Teachers Mary Johansmeyer, left, and Trish Perlman mirror each other’s movements at an exhibition of The Dance Generators at BSE April 7. Johansmeyer, who teaches physical education, said she loved how Maureen Shea presented the exercise to the kids. She said the kids picked up on the motions and that she incorporated some of these into her gymnastics unit. “I was amazed how agile and fluid and graceful the [intergenerational] dancers were,” she added.
Katie logoBSE—Maureen Shea and her “Dance Generators” dance company visited the school April 7. Their dancers are aged 25 to 90, and they love dancing together.

According to their flier, they make contemporary modern dances and create scores for improvisations.

Some people we talked with liked it a lot. Others thought it was weird.

There were stretches, mirroring exercises, and a lot of other activities, most set to music.

Ms. Carter said she was blown away by the experience: “I liked how there were different generations, so you see that you can dance even when you’re older,” she said.

Student Hannah Chase said she thought it was awesome: “It made me remember about my grandma, who passed away. But in a happy way.”

Amar Abbatiello: ‘Singing and dancing is always good for any kid…’

Amar Abbatiello is the Cat in the Hat and Laura Purington is Gertrude McFuzz in Mohawk Trail Regional High School’s “Seussical the Musical.”

MOHAWK—Junior Amar Abbatiello is one hard-working cat. Coming off his amazing performance as the Scarecrow in Mohawk’s 2014 “Wizard of Oz,” he was a natural under the hat in this month’s “Seussical,” which sold out its three consecutive-days’ performances.
He also maintains very good grades, competes in track and field, and works at South Face Farm Sugarhouse in Ashfield.

Performing wasn’t always on his mind. He wasn’t an artsy kid, he said. When he was in elementary school, at Sanderson Academy, he was a tinkerer.

“I liked building things with wood. I did that at home; I didn’t do much in school,” he said.

Even music seems to have been thrust upon him: “In seventh grade band I took saxophone because my brother had, and my mom was like, “I’m not wasting money on this saxophone; you’re going to learn saxophone.’ ” So he did.

Next came chorus. “I got into eighth grade and they were like, ‘You can take chorus or you can take gym.’ I was like, ‘Sign me up, I’ll sing my heart out!’ And now I’m the Cat in the Hat.”

Asked a couple of hours before his March 7 performance what it’s like working with so many kids from all over the school district, Amar immediately said he enjoys it.

“It’s a very good learning experience for both groups. All the elementary school kids get to see how all us slightly more mature kids kind of act about theatre. They can kind of get an experience of theatre and see that singing and dancing — that’s always good for any kid, whether he wants to go into dancing or not.”

He added: “I think it’s just a healthy experience for kids of wider age groups to communicate with each other, because it creates more understanding between both of them and leaves less of a gap between social groups. So you can communicate as a whole better later on.”


RELATED: All-School ‘Seussical’ a District Who’s Who.

Charlemont’s Holly May Brown is going places!

“Go Big or Go Home” hit national and international radio this summer. A national and international tour is introducing Holly May to the world.
“Go Big or Go Home” hit national and international radio this summer. A national and international tour is introducing Holly May to the world.

CHARLEMONT—Holly May Brown started playing music when she was 3 years old. The first song she wrote by herself was “Tonight,” a love song.

Now she’s 17, a senior at Mohawk Trail Regional High School, and is becoming a country and pop music star. We spoke with her at Brooke’s church, West County Baptist, in Charlemont, where she was playing a benefit concert.

Holly got her start performing around Shelburne Falls and Vermont, and will be playing in New Jersey and Tennessee. She is also going to be touring Europe for two weeks.

She has music videos for her songs, “I’ve Been on the Run” and “Go Big Or Go Home,” which has more than a million views on YouTube [adjust volume; link opens video].

She said she looks up to Carrie Underwood and Luke Bryan, who also sing country music.

She added that she does have stage fright but is getting over it.
When we saw her, somebody told her, “We need to buy you a new wardrobe,” because her pants were all ripped.

Trivia for her fans: she plays field hockey and rides horses; her favorite color is baby blue; she used to play flute and clarinet; and she is not double-jointed.

“It has always been my dream to sing and perform,” Holly said, “ I can’t wait to see where it takes me.”


— By Brooke Looman and Joy Bohonowicz.