Closing out the first half of the school year, Cranston East held its 27th annual winter concert on Dec. 19.
The concert featured performances by the Choir, Chamber Choir, Chamber Orchestra, String Orchestra, “Big Band” Jazz Ensemble and the Concert Band. In total, 147 students performed, with several students being part of more than one ensemble.
The stage in the auditorium was festively decorated with green and white garland, white blinking twinkle lights and snowflakes hung from the rafters.
Music Director Mark Colozzi thanked the audience for coming out and supporting music in Cranston schools. The almost capacity crowd was composed of students, parents, families, teachers, friends and many alumni of Cranston East.
Colozzi announced that the concert was being dedicated “to the community of Newtown, Connecticut, as well as their beautiful children and heroic adults.”
A diverse selection of songs had been chosen for the choirs to perform. There were songs about Hanukkah, Christmas, Eskimo culture, songs in French and Spanish and a special A capella performance by 13 males singer who executed a fine showing despite being “very nervous,” according to Colozzi.
Accompanying the student performers throughout the evening were fellow Cranston music teachers Greg Arsenault, Anne Diamond, Pam Lowell and, from URI, Rena Anthony and Alison Dubois.
The Chamber and String Orchestras played traditional holiday favorites, including a piece from the “Nutcracker Suite.” Wanting to add “pop” to a traditional favorite, the orchestras added electric bass and drums to “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
One of the major showstopper acts of the evening was a solo performance by Sam “The Ham” Chakmakian and his rendition of “Feeling Good.” The 16-member “Big Band” Jazz Ensemble backed up Chakmakian.
A new tradition started just last year at the Winter Concert inducts someone into the Thunderbolt Band Hall of Fame for their dedication, enthusiasm and passion for music. This year’s inductee was Ron Stabile, a 1971 graduate of Cranston East.
“Ron Stabile was a teacher's teacher. He was the model music educator who had built a program at Archie Cole Jr. High School in less than optimal conditions. Ron was very proud of his East roots, as he had mentioned many times,” Colozzi said.
Stabile worked as a student teaching coordinator at URI, and Colozzi said he was encouraging to both students and staff about music in Cranston.
“As a percussionist, he was second to none. As Monsignor Mancini, music director at the Cathedral of SS. Peter & Paul in Providence stated so well, ‘Ron could make a blank sheet of paper into great music.’ Personally, I always felt honored to be performing with Ron. He was truly gifted and always professional. He is greatly missed by the entire music community in Rhode Island,” said Colozzi.
Colozzi presented Stabile’s wife Caroline with a plaque commemorating the honor.
The Concert Band played two numbers just before being joined by the choir for the concert finale of “Our Winter Wonderland.”
The room erupted in applause and treated the performers to a standing ovation for a job well done.