Last week, the middle school held a most special event. This was the night of the school spring concert. If you have ever attended one of these events then you will understand this blog post.
It started off like so many other concerts I had attended. I drop my children off early so they can warm up and prepare themselves.... Wait a minute! I said middle school right? I have only high school children! What’s up with that?
You see, this was not just ANY concert. This was Mr. Ed DeFusco’s Final Farewell concert. After 30 years in our little school district he is hanging up his hat.
The gymnasium was packed! Oh yeah, and VERY hot and sticky! It was packed a little more than normal on this special night. Parents, friends and teachers of the students were sitting in the bleachers and on chairs, standing against the walls and on the floor. I think the entire town was there!
There was a group consisting of younger musicians that were under the conduction of Mr. Lapham. They played their selections wonderfully.
The string section, one of my favorites, had a new instructor, Ms. Chen. The students had great skill and showed good timing.
Then Mr. DeFusco had his younger chorus sing some toe-tapping tunes for all of to forget the time and also how HOT it was! My favorite was the "Caribbean" song, but they were all song beautifully.
Then as an added bonus we were entertained by Mr. Healey and the high school band. They played “Into the Raging River,” one of the songs they were scheduled to perform Friday in Salem, NH in a competition. They actually got a standing ovation! Way to go!
But I don’t normally find myself at a concert, in a hot sticky gymnasium where my two children don’t attend school anymore. So why did I sit in that gym for an hour and half you ask? Because I was in the final song!
Yup, that’s right. I was in the Grand Finale! Why was this finale so grand, you ask?
Well not because of my singing abilities, I will tell you! No, it was a chorus consisting of anyone who had Mr. DeFusco as a teacher, no matter what year. We were asked to come back for this final show – to sing one of his favorite songs – to say goodbye in the only way one should say goodbye to one of the most musically talented people you will ever meet.
Let’s go back to Monday before the concert. We had a practice with current and past choral members, and it was sweet! To hear the voices of chorus-es past and present was like angels singing.
Mr. DeFusco was surprised to see a few of the faces. We had a special chorus. Not sure who was the oldest, but one of my daughters seems to think it is me. (She is now grounded.)
I can say we had several from the 1990s return! Mr. DeFusco was pleasantly surprised when he was told that he had two generations singing in the chorus... My daughter and I!
Now back to the concert! As we were called up to stand on the risers... the audience got smaller! So many people were there to sing for our beloved Mr. D! I stood next to my daughter... you know because I don’t embarrass her enough. And then next to us stood so many that, well, not all of us fit!
As Mr. D started speaking about starting at the high school, which was 7th through 12th grade back in 1981, I looked at the chorus. I saw so many adults, people that were once his students crying. I was one of them.
While giving his "Farewell" speech he did put a plug in for work, since he will be unemployed soon. He offered to do yard work, anything he said... He can handle it!
While trying to hold his emotions in check, he stated as to why we were singing the song he choose. He told us that it was a long time favorite that he has used for many years, and this is true. But then he mentioned a mom who helped him often, and how he had the chorus sing this song for her.
That was a song they sung at her funeral, because that mom was Marsha Bowman. She, along with Katie Decubellis, were killed by a drunk driver back in 1999. This brought tears to all eyes.
He brought us all back to center so we could sing "Flying Free." No other song would have been right, no other song would have felt right, and no other song would have fit Mr. D.
As we sang, I looked around. So many people were crying. Not only those of us singing, but the audience. As smiles were given, and hands waved, the song came to an end, just as we knew it would. The sounds of the crowd were amazing. We all were cheering, clapping and crying for our beloved Mr. D.
There is something about a school’s music department. It is the heart and soul of the school. Tonight our little school’s heart was beating, and our soul was Flying Free.
Thank you Mr. DeFusco, for all you have done.
We love you.