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Ending on a high note

GHS music ‘family’ celebrates 27 years under the direction of Paul Calcari

  • Recorder/Beth Reynolds<br/>Mr. Calcari’s Music Family Reunion was held at Greenfield High School with hundreds of GHS alums participating in the band and chorus on Saturday. The concert celebrated Paul Calcari, director of Music K-12 for Greenfield Public Schools who retires this year after 27 years. "Mr C" plays with here his Jam Band that includes his best friends and supported by current students.

    Recorder/Beth Reynolds
    Mr. Calcari’s Music Family Reunion was held at Greenfield High School with hundreds of GHS alums participating in the band and chorus on Saturday. The concert celebrated Paul Calcari, director of Music K-12 for Greenfield Public Schools who retires this year after 27 years. "Mr C" plays with here his Jam Band that includes his best friends and supported by current students.

  • Recorder/Beth Reynolds<br/>Paul Calcari conducted his final concert as Greenfield High School music director in May.

    Recorder/Beth Reynolds
    Paul Calcari conducted his final concert as Greenfield High School music director in May.

  • GREENFIELD, MA (May 4, 2013) Mr. Calcari’s Music Family Reunion was help at Greenfield High School with hundreds of GHS alums participating in the band and chorus. The concert celebrated Paul Calcari, Director of Music K-12 for Greenfield Public Schools who retires this year. Calcari presents his wife Janet with roses before performing "Maybe I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney which he dedicated to her.  Photo by Beth Reynolds

    GREENFIELD, MA (May 4, 2013) Mr. Calcari’s Music Family Reunion was help at Greenfield High School with hundreds of GHS alums participating in the band and chorus. The concert celebrated Paul Calcari, Director of Music K-12 for Greenfield Public Schools who retires this year. Calcari presents his wife Janet with roses before performing "Maybe I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney which he dedicated to her. Photo by Beth Reynolds

  • Recorder/Beth Reynolds<br/>Mr. Calcari’s Music Family Reunion was held at Greenfield High School with hundreds of GHS alums participating in the band and chorus on Saturday. The concert celebrated Paul Calcari, director of Music K-12 for Greenfield Public Schools who retires this year after 27 years. "Mr C" plays with here his Jam Band that includes his best friends and supported by current students.
  • Recorder/Beth Reynolds<br/>Paul Calcari conducted his final concert as Greenfield High School music director in May.
  • GREENFIELD, MA (May 4, 2013) Mr. Calcari’s Music Family Reunion was help at Greenfield High School with hundreds of GHS alums participating in the band and chorus. The concert celebrated Paul Calcari, Director of Music K-12 for Greenfield Public Schools who retires this year. Calcari presents his wife Janet with roses before performing "Maybe I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney which he dedicated to her.  Photo by Beth Reynolds

GREENFIELD — Slamming his fingers down onto an electrical keyboard one final time, Paul Calcari broke into a smile as a packed Greenfield High School auditorium rose to their feet in applause.

It was the 57-year-old retiring music director’s last moment on the high school stage — the conclusion to a three-hour “music family reunion” that he organized with his students from the past 27 years.

“I feel so fortunate that I have found a home here,” said Calcari, minutes later, choking up only slightly while thanking his family.

“I thank you very much for coming out and listening,” he said. “Music is really teaching the soul and we can’t lose music in our school system ever. Let’s make sure that never happens.”

Then, with a bow and a wave to the crowd, his final concert — which included performances by an alumni band, alumni chorus, Broadway star Kevin Duda and Calcari’s own “jam band” — was complete.

For the hundreds of alumni present, it was a night for reminiscing about favorite music department memories and how Calcari had changed their lives for the better.

“Thank you for never letting us settle for anything less than our very best,” said Kate Seaman, the concert’s master of ceremonies, at the end of the concert. “(Thank you) for inspiring us to be better people, for giving us a place to go where we always were accepted during some of the most chaotic years of our lives.”

Calcari first led the alumni band — made up of members from the Class of 1986 through today — in three songs and the alumni chorus in four.

Superintendent Susan Hollins joined accompanist Timothy Rogers to play piano on two of the choral songs. And the crowd roared with laughter as 40-year-old Ken Fortin — who had joined the band as a freshman just so he could play the cowbell — stood holding the instrument for an entire song, hitting it only at the very end.

Elvis “interpreter” Travis LeDoyt couldn’t attend the concert in person as previously planned but he did record a video for the event, which was shown on a big screen following an intermission.

Duda, the Broadway performer, sang five songs and shared comedic moments from his time in the music department — including when he led a group of 80-plus students during a Broadway trip on a 15-minute unsuccessful quest to find Shubert Alley.

And then, for the final act, Calcari sang, played piano and trumpet on five songs with his “jam band” — a group that includes some of his oldest friends.

Before the band played Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” Seaman announced that Calcari had known for 25 years that he’d want to dedicate that song to his wife, Janet.

Calcari met his wife in front of the stage with red flowers, and the two hugged before the director made his way to the piano to play the song.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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