Music Faculty Scholarship Concert features touching tribute to Joel Perry

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — The 17th annual Music Faculty Scholarship Concert showcased the talents of the West Orange School District’s music faculty and paid tribute to Redwood Elementary School music teacher Joel Perry, who died in September 2017.

The Feb. 6 concert was held at Liberty Middle School and featured solo, duet and group performances by the talented members of the music department. The program opened with a selection of songs performed by West Orange High School students Ruben Centeno, Indigo Jackson, Julian Adams, Gabby Florendo and Khalil Louigene from the spring musical “In the Heights.”

Emcee John Hellyer sang “For Forever” from “Dear Evan Hansen,” last season’s big Broadway hit. He also performed a duet with Patrick McLaughlin of “Lily’s Eyes,” from “The Secret Garden.” Other vocalists included Allison Gibbons with a powerful version of “Over the Rainbow,” and Nicole Payne’s rendition of “I Was Here.”

Highlights of group and duet performances included Erin Lagatic and Andrea Rommel on clarinet and flute with “Tarantella”; Elena Peres and Francesco Composto with the WOHS Royal Strings performing “Concerto in A Minor” and “Concerto in D Minor”; and Francesco Composto, Dave Rimelis, Betsy Maliszewski and Angel Liu offering “Concerto for 4 Violins.”

Jazz remained a core component of the evening with selections from the West Orange Faculty Brass Ensemble featuring Ryan Krewer, Mark Lagatic, Scott Tomlin, Joe Romano, Josh Zimmer, Kevin Munroe, Jim Robinson, Ben Rivera and Lew Kelly. Krewer arranged the music for the group’s jazzy reworking of “Don’t Stop Me Now,” by Queen.

Several musical presentations were part of the celebratory tribute to Perry. Perry, who passed away suddenly just as the new school year was about to begin, was not only a music teacher for more than 20 year but an accomplished guitarist who recorded three albums. His wife, daughter and granddaughter were in attendance at the concert along with several Redwood teachers. Retired music teacher Jacqueline Dougherty played guitar and provided vocals on “The Times They Are a-Changin,” and current Redwood music teacher Gary Margerum sang “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” Perry was a big fan of Bob Dylan.

Roger Bryson performed on saxophone and vocals on “My Prayer,” dedicating it to Perry. Prior to the WOBOE Jazz Band’s “Bo Bo D” and “Elizabeth Jessica,” written by Perry and arranged by Ryan Krewer, a short interview with Perry and Steve Adubato was played.

The evening ended on a high note with the WOBOE Jazz Band backing up renowned guitarist and West Orange resident Dave Stryker performing his song “Goin’ to New Orleans.”

“The concert was well-attended and the teachers did the town proudly as they performed with precision,” fine arts supervisor Lou Quagliato said. “I also thought Dave Stryker’s contribution added a special touch and I received many compliments about the dedication to Joel Perry.”

Photos Courtesy of WOSD