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   New England Music Festival Association, Inc.             September 2014              Volume LXXIX,  No. 1        

Latest News
NEMFA Officers 2014-15
President's Message
Secretary's Report
Future Concert Festival Dates
News from Sal
8th Graders in S/E Festival
Chorus Conductor
Chorus Manager
Orchestra Manager
Band Manager
For the Sake of Jeremy
Lowell Mason House Project

Keene High School
43 Arch Street
Keene, NH 03431


5 Jamestown Road,
Somers, CT 06071
860.749.7693 (H)
860.729.4410 (C) (H e-Mail)

Immediate Past-President, Librarian
Burlington High School
52 Institute Road,
Burlington, VT 05401
802.734.2871 (H)
802.864.8590 (O)
802.864.8408 (O Fax) (H e-Mail) (O e-Mail)


Executive Secretary-Treasurer
73 Beauchamp Terrace,
Chicopee, MA 01020
413.592.9197 (H)
413.594.9636 (H Fax)
413.478.7030 (O) (H e-Mail)

Recording Secretary
56 Harvest Hill Road,
Kensington, CT 06037
860.543.2992 (Cell) (O e-Mail)

Solo & Ensemble Festival Co-Coordinator
Hartford High School
37 Highland Avenue,
White River Junction, VT 05001
802.295.8611 (Fax) (O e-Mail)

Solo & Ensemble Festival Co-Coordinator
141 Butternut Road,
Williston, VT 05495
802.878.2898 (H)
802.343.6282 (O) (S&E e-Mail)

Band Manager
Fair Haven Union High School
33 Mechanics Street,
Fair Haven, VT 05743
802.265.4066 (O) (O e-Mail)

Chorus Manager
Mt. Mansfield Union High School
211 Browns' Trace Road,
Jericho, VT 05465-9700
802.999.7189 (H)
802.899.4690, x1620 (O)
802.899.2904 (O Fax) (O e-Mail) (H e-Mail)

Orchestra Manager
8 Cottage Street
Provincetown, MA  02657
646.456.9041 (Cell) (H e-Mail)

Membership Services Chair
Cheshire Public Schools
525 South Main Street,
Cheshire, CT 06410
203.250.2534 (O)
203.250.2563 (O Fax) (O e-Mail) (H e-Mail))

Bulletin Editor, Archivist, Web Site Manager
The Bromfield School
14 Massachusetts Avenue,
Harvard, MA 01451
617.529-9402 (H)
978-456-4152, x571 (O)
978-456-3013 (O Fax) (H e-Mail)


Web Info

Bulletin Signup

Is there anyone that you would like to suggest receive this Bulletin as a way to recruit new members from other schools and states? Please feel free to forward the Bulletin to them or send their e-mail to Editor Tom Reynolds at the following address:


NEMFA Calendar 2014-2015

September 6, 2014-Executive Board Meeting 10:00am,Keene High School,Keene,NH 
October 1, 2014 - Online Application Process begins for 2014-2015
October 27, 2014 - Electronic Deadline S/E Festival (online)
November 1, 2014 - Postmark Deadline S/E Festival to Bill Sittard
December 6, 2014 - NORTHERN SITE Solo/Ensemble Festival, Hartford High School, White River Jct., VT
December 13, 2014 - SOUTHERN SITE Solo/Ensemble Festival, Cheshire High School, Cheshire, CT
December 20, 2014 - SNOW DATE for either of the two S/E Festivals listed above.
January 19, 2015 - POSTMARK DEADLINE Acceptance to Concert Festival. After 2/1/2015, no forms will be accepted.
March 19-21, 2015 - Concert Festival, Keene High School, Keene, NH.
June 6, 2015-Executive Board Meeting, 10:00am, Holiday Inn Express, Brattleboro, VT 
President's Message -
Sal Cicciarella
Sal Cicciarella

September, 2014


Dear Colleagues,


Welcome Back!


As we begin our academic year and preparations for many performances, adjudications, and musical experiences for our students, I'm confident the 88th New England Music Festival will be an integral part of these musical opportunities.


The dates for our adjudications and festivals have been published by our Web Design specialist, Steffen Parker and Tom Reynolds and are available on our web site: The Northern Solo and Ensemble Festival scheduled for Saturday, December 6th at Hartford High School, White River Junction, Vermont. On Saturday, December 13th, the Southern Solo and Ensemble Festival will be at Cheshire High School, Cheshire, Connecticut.


Our Concert Festival is March 19-20, 2015 and will be held at Keene High School, NH. Tom Martin, host, and the entire school community are delighted to welcome you and your ensemble students to this facility with its spacious rooms dedicated for our use. Please refer to our online bulletin for continuous updates and announcements concerning concert festival details.


Our ensemble managers continue to represent the very best and dedicated music educators in our New England area: we welcome back Chorus Manager Caleb Pillsbury Mansfield Union High School Vermont, Concert Band Manager, Peter Roach, Fair Haven Union High School, Vermont, and Tony Brackett, formerly from The Julliard, Pre-College Division, Orchestra Manager from Massachusetts



Preparing for the best musical experience for your students, three outstanding music educators have accepted our invitation to conduct the 2015 NEMFA Concert Festival:


            Band:             Adam Brennan, Mansfield University, PA

            Chorus:          Jerry Blackstone, University of Michigan

            Orchestra:     Roger Lehmann, University of Southern Maine 


Each program will be a rewarding and musical experience for all ensemble members as well as for their teachers who diligently prepare their students' each year for the concert festival.



Special Announcements


1. We are pleased to announce the appointment of Stephanie Weigand from Harwood Union MSHS, Vermont as our Dean of Students. Stephanie comes to us with vast experience and knowledge of our NEMFA family. Welcome Stephanie!!


2. Kevin Lam from Valley Regional High School, Ct accepted our invitation as Social Media Manager. We look forward to Kevin's participation and contributions as we move forward to spread the word of NEMFA via the many social media venues.


3. It is with deep regret that we accept the resignation of President-Elect Laura Hilton effectively immediately. We thank Laura for her many years of service to the membership in her many roles as chorus manager, and executive board member. We look forward to her continuing as a valued NEMFA member for many more concert festivals.


4. Revised Violin S&E Repertoire will be in effect for this year's S&E Festival!!


5. Concert Festival Dress for women will be all black!



A special thank you to the members of the Executive Board as they continue to work for our organization, and to our Solo and Ensemble Co-Coordinators Rob Gattie and Steffan Parker who consistently select the finest adjudicators and space for the Solo and Ensemble Festival. If you know of any qualified adjudicators, please notify Rob and Steffen, as they always appreciate your recommendations.


Please spread the good news of the work of the NEMFA to your colleagues so that our future will continue to grow and prosper for another Eighty-Eight years of music excellence.



Dates to remember!


Saturday, September 6, 2014, EB Meeting Keene HS, NH 10:00 A.M.

Saturday, December 12, 2014 EB Meeting, Cheshire, CT 10:00 A.M.

March 19-21-2015, Concert Festival Keene NH

March 17-19, 2016, Concert Festival Guilford HS Guilford NH



I wish you success in all you do.



Sal Cicciarella


President, NEMFA



Secretary's Report -
Gail Reynolds
Gail Reynolds


June 8, 2014, 9:00 AM

Brattleboro, Vermont


The Meeting was called to order by President Sal Cicciarella at 9:07AM


In attendance: Sal Cicciarella, Gail Reynolds, Bill Sittard, Frank Whitcomb, Rob Gattie, Tony Brackett, Peter Roach and Caleb Pillsbury and John Kuhner.


Member Apologies: Laura Hilton, Tom Reynolds, Steffen Parker


Minutes from the March 21, 2014 Executive Board meeting were read by Gail Reynolds. Following one correction and the addition of one meeting date, a motion by Rob Gattie to accept as amended was passed. Minutes from the March 21, 2014 General Membership meeting were read by Gail Reynolds. Following one correction, a motion by Tony Brackett to accept as amended was passed.


Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Bill Sittard reported that financially, NEMFA is doing well. He noted a minor loss on the S & E Festival and a profit on the Concert Festival. A motion by Gail Reynolds to accept the report passed unanimously.


Band Manager, Peter Roach presented four program proposals submitted by the 2015 band conductor, Dr. Adam Brennan from Mansfield University, PA. He reported that Dr. Brennan was receptive to the inclusion at least one piece from the standard concert repertoire. Each proposal included one of Brennan's original works. Following discussion, The EB asked that Mr. Roach take each of the proposals and check the timing, extra instrumentation needs, and instrumentation uniformity so that no students are idle for a long time. Mr. Roach was asked to submit that information electronically to the EB by June 15. The EB would then approve a program via electronic vote.


Orchestra Manager, Tony Bracket presented four program proposals submitted by 2015 orchestra conductor, Robert Lehmann (University of Southern Maine). A motion by Gail Reynolds to accept program proposal A passed unanimously. Tony also presented the Board with a list of potential conductors and bios for approval. Following discussion, the Board asked that he narrow the list down to five candidates. The five selected were Ben Zander, David Becker, Tony Maiello, Larry Livingston and John Eells. Mr. Brackett will make contact with those conductors.


Chorus Manager, Caleb Pillsbury submitted two program proposals from conductor Jerry Blackstone, University of Michigan. Following discussion, the Board recommended program 1 with one adjustment. A motion by John Kuhner to approve program 1 with recommended change passed unanimously.


 Solo & Ensemble Festival Co-Chairs Report, Rob Gattie. Rob Gattie reported that he will begin contacting adjudicators for the December S & E Festivals.


Performance Certificates. John Kuhner volunteered to design and print participation certificates for both the S & E and the Concert Festivals. Hard copy certificates would be available for pick up by sponsors at the registration table. He volunteered to create a template for each festival and send it electronically to the EB for approval. A motion by Rob Gattie that John Kuhner design and provide performance certificates for both the S & E and Concert Festivals for the upcoming festivals passed unanimously.


Member Service Report, John Kuhner reported that neither the CT nor VT MEAs were interested in partnering with NEMFA's Solo & Ensemble Festival. John will send state MEA members e-copies of the June and September NEMFA bulletin with a cover page letter from Sal for the purpose of recruiting new sponsors. John Kuhner suggested that the EB members do a follow up communication in September.





1. A motion by Rob Gattie to allow 8th graders to participate in the S & E Festival provided that they follow the existing policy with the understanding that they cannot be considered for acceptance in the Concert Festival but have the option to perform the same piece in 9th grade passed unanimously. President Cicciarella will compose a letter to the membership which Tom will put in the September bulletin.


2. A motion by Rob Gattie to approve Guilford HS, Guilford, New Hampshire as the 2016 host subject to considerations as discussed June 7 passed unanimously. President Cicciarella will contact Lyvie Beyrent from Guilford HS with the following considerations: a) a request for the stage dimensions, b) verification that the school can provide an area for NEMFA students to gather to eat lunch Thursday and c) to ask if the host school feels confident that it can find host families to house all the nemfa students.


3. The Board discussed creating a Social Media position. It was decided that the position will be a non-board position and be appointed by the president. The Social Media Manager will work with the Website Manager. Concert Festival expenses will be covered by NEMFA. Tony Brackett moved that the EB recommend Kevin Lam to President Cicciarella for the position. The motion passed unanimously.


4. The EB discussed the feasibility of allowing Maine students who are far from the Northern S&E site to be allowed to adjudicate using visual/audio technology. Rob Gattie said his school could accommodate this process. President Cicciarella will contact Tom Reynolds to see if he is interested in taking on the responsibility of connecting with Maine sponsors to see if they are interested in participating. A motion was made by John Kuhner that Tom Reynolds explore the possibility of using Skype for adjudications, contacting the Maine sponsors for interest level and contacting the S&E sites for verification of electronic capability and report back to the EB in September. The motion passed unanimously.


5. President Cicciarella will remind the membership of the revised violin S&E repertoire list and procedures in his letter to the membership.


6. Rob Gattie moved that the EB recommend that President Cicciarella appoint Stephanie Weigand as Dean of Students. The motion was approved with 8 votes for and 1 abstention from Frank Whitcomb.


7. It was reiterated that concert festival dress for women would be all black.


8. Tony Brackett moved that EB minutes be sent electronically to all Board members within 10 days after the meeting to allow members one week to approve or make corrections. The secretary will then send the finalized minutes to the president and webmaster. The motion passed unanimously.


9. Vocal Solo Literature Lists. The Board discussed the solo literature lists that Amy Ranta submitted. The following was decided by the EB: Steffen will forward the lists to Tony Brackett. Over the summer, Tony will rank the solos a) alphabetically by composer and b) by the most-to-least often sung at the S&E festival.   Tony will send the information to Sal who will in turn forward it to Amy Ranta with directions on how to pare down the lists. Amy will work with her committee to prepare revised lists prior to the Concert Festival. Final lists will be decided upon at a forum to be held during the March Concert Festival. The lists will be presented to the EB for approval at their March Executive Board meeting.


10. Frank Whitcomb informed the Board that the VYOA and VYOC are suspending their policy of accepting only those students who also participate in their school ensembles. Following a discussion, the Board decided to revisit the issue at a future meeting.




Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 EB meeting Keene HS, NH.

December 12, 2014, Executive Board Meeting, Cheshire, CT.

March 19-21, 2015: 2015 Concert Festival, Keene NH. Thomas Martin Host.


 The meeting adjourned at 11:30AM


The next NEMFA EB meeting will be Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Keene HS, NH.


                                                                     Respectfully submitted,


                                                                           Gail Reynolds

                                                                        Recording Secretary

Future NEMFA Concert Festival Dates

     March 19-21, 2015 - Keene, NH

     March 17-19, 2016 - Guilford, NH


Be sure to mark these dates into your calendars. We also need host schools for these concert festivals. If you have never hosted a NEMFA Concert Festival at your school, please do consider it. It is a very rewarding experience for any school to be a host, and most every NEMFA Concert Festival has had a positive effect on the host school's music program for a long time after the festival is over. It is also a great way to raise funds for your local school program. Please contact President Sal Cicciarella if you have any further questions about hosting a NEMFA Concert Festival,  

News from Sal Cicciarella regarding Jack Reidy

     We are sorry to report of the passing of Jack Reidy, husband of our beloved Past President, Grace Reidy this past Friday in Maine. A memorial service is planned on Sept 27th in their long time home of Wheelwright, MA. I have enclosed her address for your personal needs.

Grace Reidy
620 Post Road #22
Wells, Maine 04090
NEMFA now allowing Eighth Graders to participate in the Solo/Ensemble Festival!

Special Announcement



The NEMFA Executive Board has unanimously passed the following new policy effective immediately!!


         To allow 8th graders to participate in the Solo and Ensemble Festival provided they follow the existing policy understanding that they cannot be considered for acceptance in the Concert Festival. They will have the option to perform the same piece in 9th grade and be considered for the concert festival if all criteria for acceptance is followed.



For additional questions and concerns please contact:


         Tony Brackett, Orchestra Manager NEMFA


2015 NEMFA Chorus Conductor -
Dr. Jerry Blackstone

Grammy® Award-winning conductor Jerry Blackstone is director of choirs and chair of the conducting department at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance where he conducts the Chamber Choir, teaches conducting at the graduate level, and administers a choral program of 11 choirs. In February 2006, he received two Grammy® Awards ("Best Choral Performance" and "Best Classical Album") as chorusmaster for the critically acclaimed Naxos recording of William Bolcom's monumental Songs of Innocence and of Experience. In 2006, the Chamber Choir performed by special invitation at the inaugural convention of the National Collegiate Choral Organization in San Antonio, and in 2003 the Chamber Choir presented three enthusiastically received performances in New York City at the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). In addition to Blackstone's choral conducting work at the University, he has led operatic productions with the University of Michigan Opera Theatre, including productions of Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen and Strauss's Die Fledermaus. For significant contributions to choral music in Michigan, he received the 2006 Maynard Klein Lifetime Achievement Award from the ACDA-Michigan chapter.


Blackstone is considered one of the country's leading conducting teachers, and his students have received first place awards and been finalists in both the graduate and undergraduate divisions of the American Choral Directors Association biennial National Choral Conducting Awards competition. He has appeared as festival guest conductor and workshop presenter in 30 states as well as New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. Guest appearances for 2012-13 include festivals and conference presentations in Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin, Maryland, New York, California, Florida, New Jersey, Iowa, South Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Michigan.


In 2004, Blackstone was named conductor and music director of the University Musical Society Choral Union, a large community/university chorus that frequently appears with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and presents yearly performances of Handel's Messiah and other major works for chorus and orchestra. In March 2008, he conducted the UMS Choral Union and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in a special performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion. Choirs prepared by Blackstone have appeared under the batons of Valery Gergiev, Neeme Järvi, Leonard Slatkin, John Adams, Helmuth Rilling, James Conlon, Nicholas McGegan, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Peter Oundjian, and Itzhak Perlman.


As conductor of the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club from 1988-2002, Blackstone led the ensemble in performances at ACDA national and division conventions and on extensive concert tours throughout Australia, Eastern and Central Europe, Asia, South America, and the United States. The recently released U-M Men's Glee Club CD, I have had singing, is a retrospective of his tenure as conductor of the ensemble.


Santa Barbara Music Publishing distributes Blackstone's acclaimed educational video, Working with Male Voices, and publishes theJerry Blackstone Choral Series, a set of choral publications that presents works by several composers in a variety of musical styles.


Prior to coming to the University of Michigan in 1988, Blackstone served on the music faculties of Phillips University in Oklahoma, Westmont College in California, and Huntington College in Indiana. He holds degrees from the University of Southern California, Indiana University, and Wheaton College.
2015 NEMFA Chorus Manager
Caleb Pillsbury
Caleb Pillsbury

Hello and Happy Summer..!!


First I'd like to thank you all for your hard work preparing your students for the festival and in Bennington during the On Site Hearings. I will be in touch once again for adjudicators in Keene, New Hampshire.


Dr. Shangkuan was thrilled to work with our students, was impressed with their musicality and was thrilled that she could focus on the details that made the performance so excellent. Jerry Blackstone has put together an excellent program that we will send on to you in the Autumn Bulletin once it is finalized.


Second, I'd like to thank Nola Campbell from Glastonbury High School and Frank Whitcomb from Burlington High School for their beautiful playing in the concert. It was such a thrill for the students to be accompanied by such outstanding musicians. Listening to the recordings has been such a thrill. We will have Kathleen Bartkowski accompany the choir once more in Keene.


I am confident the 2015 Concert Festival will be once again an outstanding educational and musical experience for our students. If you have any feedback or would like to help with Chorus Onsite Hearings in Keene, please feel free to contact me at:


See you in Keene!



Caleb Pillsbury


2015 NEMFA Orchestra Manager -
Anthony Brackett
Tony Brackett
The 2014 New England Music Festival Orchestra performed brilliantly at the concert last March. Maestro Adam Glaser from the Juilliard School lead the musicians through some standard repertoire which, while familiar to most of us, felt very exciting, fresh and youthful. It was such a pleasure to watch the orchestra grow musically through the rehearsals. Many thanks to our hosts at Mount Anthony Union High School in Bennington, VT for showing us all such an excellent time.

Our 2015 Orchestra conductor will be Mr. Robert Lehmann, Associate Professor, Director of String Studies and Orchestral Activities at the University of Southern Maine School of Music. A superb violinist, Mr. Lehmann was on the conducting staff of the Greater Boston and Empire State Youth Orchestras, has conducted All-State Orchestras from Maine to California, is first violinist of the Meliora Quartet and concertmaster of the PORTOpera. Please visit his website:


Violin students and teachers please take note of the repertoire listings for the Solo & Ensemble Festival. NEMFA has decided to update the solo listings for violin. While most of your favorite pieces will still be on the list, some solos not considered to be of a level that would easily indicate the overall playing ability of the performer, have been eliminated. We have also added a "Virtuoso List" of ten extremely difficult solos. If a student chooses to perform a piece from this list and does an outstanding job, an additional 0-7 bonus points might be added to the total score. The allocation of bonus points will be determined by the adjudicator. Of course, if a solo is not on our list of approved repertoire, you can still perform that piece for adjudication comments only.

Thanks again to the students, faculty and family members of NEMFA for making this musical experience so special and meaningful. I look forward to working with the orchestra again this coming year.

Have a restful summer.


Tony Brackett

Orchestra Manager


2015 NEMFA Band Manager
Peter Roach
Peter Roach

 We had a great festival experience this past March. Dr. Peter Boonshaft selected a wonderful program and the students performed it fantastically. Dr. Boonshaft was very pleased with his experience in working with NEMFA and the many talented students associated with it. The students had a great musical experience and really enjoyed working with Dr. Boonshaft. It was a truly great weekend. We are working hard and looking forward to next year's festival in Keene NH.   



Overall I thought the event went very well for everybody. I thought that the performances were very good for all three groups. I think that the band responded to Dr. Peter Boonshaft and really rose to the occasion through the week and into the concert having a very good performance. I thought that Dr. Boonshaft was quite demanding of the students but at an appropriate level for the level of musician that was present and again the students responded to the high expectation. I thought Mount Anthony was a great host. Their teachers, students, and community were very accommodating and worked diligently to help with whatever was needed. The students were well behaved and ready to work. I thought we had everything we needed for the band for the festival.  


Most of the difficulties I encountered seemed like they were a common thing to putting on a festival like this or due to this year's weather. I thought it was tough to have a solo and ensemble festival postponed. This meant students couldn't make it, the groups were selected later, the alternates were put in later, and the music got out later. I think the theme of membership does affect the number of students performing. We were quite short on some instruments leading to not having full instrumentation and also selecting students lower on the scale for the ensemble. One issue was also selecting students for the concert festival based on what they performed in the solo and ensemble festival especially in the percussion level. Playing percussion in an ensemble is such a different idea than performing a solo. I will keep this in mind for future selection. The band manager usually meets with percussion judge as well but that could not happen because of the weather changed date.  


I learned to be quite flexible with setup and desires from my conductor and how to put forth the best plan for the concert festival. The biggest thing was how the timeline and schedule of events works within NEMFA. I have a much better understanding of the flow of events and expectations. I have learned so much and I thank NEMFA for their help and guidance with everything. 


Peter Roach, NEMFA Band Manager, is the Band Director at Fair Haven Union High School in Fair Haven, Vermont.
For the sake of Jeremy...
by Thomas Reynolds (Editorial)
Tom Reynolds

For the sake of Jeremy...


(Please note: The opinions expressed in this article reflect only those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the members of the New England Music Festival Association, Inc., or its Executive Board.)


In a conversation that I had with Sal Cicciarella the other day, I had made a commitment to send this Bulletin out two days ago. However, I got busy at school and was involved in getting ready for a musical instrument selection night held for fifth grade beginners on Thursday night, September 4th at The Bromfield School. Something hit me during that meeting that motivated me to write this article for this Bulletin overnight, causing me to release it two days later than I had originally planned.


I realized that every fall since 1976, I have really looked forward to getting students excited about and involved in music-making. In 2014, this has been no exception. I have had an absolutely wonderful opening of school so far, and I am as excited about the music-making prospects for all of my students now as I was in the Fall of 1976, when I first started teaching. Years ago, I made myself promise that if I ever got tired of teaching students, that I would make myself get out of music education. I feel very lucky that the child-like enthusiasm that I have had for teaching over the years still exists as strong today as I get closer to retirement from the profession.


At the end of my 5th Grade Beginner Band's meeting, a fifth grader named Jeremy (not his real name) came up to me with his father. "I want to play French horn", proclaimed Jeremy. "Could I try one out before I sign up for it?" Of course, I said yes, and I was ecstatic that he would want to play French horn (we didn't even demonstrate one at the instrument program we held for fifth graders last week!) After I got Jeremy set up to try one of the school horns that I had in the instrument storage room, he replicated an embouchure that I modeled for him and got his hands into the correct playing position for the horn. The embouchure that he showed me could have made him a poster boy for Bandworld Magazine. He played two or three rather unceremonious blats on the instrument and then proclaimed "Boy, this is really cool! I love the French horn. My mother plays this too."


During this time, his proud father was capturing the moment using his iPhone to make a video of Jeremy's first experience on French horn. Jeremy then turned to me, asked me to put the instrument back in its case, and said "I'll take it...yes, this is what I really want to play!" I steered Jeremy and his father out to the lobby where the music company was set up and he proceeded to rent his own horn, walking out of the school with a wide smile on his face.


What a great sense of satisfaction to know how excited that boy was about his musical instrument selection! It's also rewarding to watch students like Jeremy grow up. I have been teaching grades 5 through 12 for a number of years, and now my high school band in Harvard is made up of students that I started in grade 5 and been with every year since. It is a very wonderful feeling to be able to make music with my high school wind ensemble playing Tchesnokov's "Salvation is Created", Shostakovich's "Waltz No. 2" and Vaughn William's "Folk Song Suite" on the first day of school (and they sounded quite good!). I am very proud of the progress that these students have made over the years, once again, beginning with a few random blats all the way to the performance of fairly sophisticated musical literature.


As I spend more time in the teaching profession, I realize that I am getting more selective about the kinds of musical activities in which I involve my students. I have been thinking about what I am offering these kids in the future to help them grow as musicians, and to help them maintain their child-like enthusiasm for playing their instruments that began as simple blats in grade 5. My time as a teacher in Harvard has caused me to grow attached to the community as almost an extended family. Therefore, I want to make sure that I involve my community in reputable programs that place a high priority on family values and nurturing young people into productive and motivated citizens.


We have all heard about the importance of having all children study music - "music for every child". Sounds like a pretty noble idea, doesn't it. There is a sizable amount of research out there that clearly demonstrates the value of music study for all children for its impact upon brain development and other issues relating to good health. This doesn't even take into the account the value of studying music for the sheer joy of it. However, there are times when I question whether or not we really believe what we profess. Sometimes in music education, one finds a number of activities that are designed to attract only the elite best and brightest students in schools, while the rest of the students are cast aside. After seeing the sheer happiness in Jeremy's face last night over his instrument selection, I also think about of how I might handle the damage control if someone like him were to audition for a music festival in the future in which he missed being accepted for the festival by one point! We've all been there.


In my opinion, there is no one perfect organization that runs selective music festivals for students where there isn't a certain amount of risk of the situation above being created. However, I believe strongly that the New England Music Festival Association really works hard to get it provide ALL students with a worthwhile Solo/Ensemble Festival experience that is valuable unto itself. Yes, there is a selective Concert Festival that chooses its top students from the Solo/Ensemble Festival. The NEMFA Solo/Ensemble Festival is significant for itself, and recently the organization decided to allow eighth graders to participate in the Solo/Ensemble Festival as a way to give them a unique performing experience unto itself. They will not be eligible for membership in the Concert Festival as eighth graders, but that will take the pressure off of them to be selected for that festival.


I see the New England Music Festival to be an extremely important component of the music program at The Bromfield School. It is a time-honored tradition in music education here in New England that has been offering outstanding musical performance opportunities to high school students since 1927. For almost 90 years, the New England Music Festival has provided outstanding opportunities for motivated high school music students to make music at a high level with other motivated high school music students. The music programs of hundreds of schools in the six New England states have benefitted over the years because of programs like the New England Music Festival that help to raise the standard of music education across the entire region. I am old enough to have participated in the NEMFA Solo/Ensemble Festival as a high school student, although I was never accepted to a NEMFA Concert Festival even though I did very well at two S/E Festivals. The NEMFA has since become important to me throughout my career as a music educator.


Also, I believe what makes the New England Music Festival special centers around the people who are involved in it. There is a real family environment that exists in NEMFA activities that I simply don't see in other music festivals to which I send students. I have always liked the fact that there was no huge conference surrounding this festival...there is time for teachers to attend rehearsals and have dialogues among colleagues regarding musical issues that affect either the festival directly or their home programs or states. In my opinion, the family aspect of NEMFA is one of the most important elements of membership in the Association. It is an opportunity to see friends and colleagues who are separated by enough miles that the Festival is the only time of the year when all can connect in one place. At a time when technology and distance education seem to be taking public education by storm, it is comforting that organizations like the New England Music Festival still exist where the emphasis is on family and camaraderie and linking motivated students who love making music with like-minded students so they are all able to make music together at a high level.


For me, I feel a sense of obligation to send students to perform both in the Solo and Ensemble and the Concert Festivals of the New England Music Festival because it is both an important institution in the history of New England music education and my school is one of the few schools representing Massachusetts in the festival. The rewards of participating in NEMFA to my community have been great over the years. In 2007, we actually hosted a NEMFA Concert Festival in my community...imagine, a little one-horse town playing host to great high school musicians from all over New England! The families in my community really enjoyed being hosts...a number have asked me when we are doing it again.


With declining numbers of teacher members and schools primarily in three of the six New England states, I worry about the impact this will have on the New England Music Festival Association in the future. My sense is that the NEMFA is facing a great challenge as we look towards the future of music education in our region. That challenge centers around membership...trying to find a way to entice younger music educators to get involved with the New England Music Festival to ensure that the festival remains in existence for future generations of school musicians.


Without sounding like I am preaching too much, I do think that it is important that all NEMFA members take on the responsibility of recruiting new members to this wonderful organization. One or two people are not going to be able to waive a magic wand and make hundreds of new members appear magically out of the sky. Expanding our membership is EVERYONE'S RESPONSIBILITY, not just a few people or the executive board. If you believe in this organization...if you want this organization to exist in the is absolutely necessary for you to be involved in the recruiting of new membership for the New England Music Festival. Otherwise, the NEMFA runs the risk of getting smaller and smaller until it no longer exists.


Maybe we need to at least consider the following questions...where are the city kids?...have we become a festival made up primarily of well-off communities in the suburbs?...have we worked hard enough to get students from Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island in this festival?...are there communities in Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire that should be NEMFA members who are not?


As I get Jeremy started on French horn, my hope is that the New England Music Festival will still be able to provide the wonderful musical experiences that it does now when he is ready to attend it. For the sake of Jeremy of Harvard, Mass., and all of the students like Jeremy who live in communities throughout New England, please, please, please....get involved and help the New England Music Festival Association build a strong membership base so that it will be a strong and flourishing organization for another 90 years and beyond.


Thomas E. Reynolds


The Bromfield School 

14 Massachusetts Avenue

Harvard, Massachusetts  01451 



Lowell Mason House Project
Lowell Mason Poster

by Thomas E. Reynolds




September 5, 2014


The Lowell Mason Foundation has been brainstorming ways of raising the necessary $500,000.00 to complete the restoration of the house, to turn it into a museum and a meeting place. Now that the house has been saved and moved, the next step is to restore the interior and exterior of the house and equip it with services, such as electricity, and water.


One major fund-raising project for the Lowell Mason Foundation which also may be used to support music education initiatives in local schools is the Lowell Mason Music Education poster, shown at the top of this article. A beautiful, full color poster designed by Mrs. Barbara Bose, Foundation members are hoping that music educators around New England would be interested in having  the poster prominently displayed in music rooms throughout the region. The poster sells for $15.00 each and directly supports the restoration of the Lowell Mason House...however, the Lowell Mason Foundation is open to have student music groups at various schools sell the poster for $15.00, with $10.00 going to the restoration of the Lowell Mason House and $5.00 going to the local music student group as a way of supporting student music education initiatives. We are hopeful that a number of schools will want to take part in this fund-raising project.


Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today. Make checks payable to: The Lowell Mason Foundation, P. O. Box 913 Medfield, MA 02052. Your contribution is tax-deductible as a charitable contribution to the extent provided by U.S. tax law. ·


- Thomas E. Reynolds



Once again, we hope that you enjoy this new format of the bulletin. Please feel free to drop me a line at for any comments or suggestions to improve the Bulletin. It will also have a direct link on our website,

Hope that you have a great school year!


Thomas Reynolds

New England Music Festival Association, Inc.