Friday, November 29, 2013

The Arts at Mohawk

Mohawk's Rock Band  "Sonic Toast" will perform at the Winter Concert on December 12.
(More photos, video Pep Rally, and video Booster Day Game)

From Principal Lynn Dole's November 24, 2013 Newsletter:

The arts enrich us and this issue of News from Mohawk features information about a wide variety of music and theater activities.  In addition to this section, please see the afterschool enrichment offerings listed at the end of this issue of News.

Mohawk presents Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” on December 6 and 7

We’re pleased to announce that performances of “The Crucible” are fast-approaching! Our students have been working diligently and it has truly been an inspiration to watch them tackle such a complex dramatic text. It’s going to be a great show!

Our performances will take place on Friday, December 6th and Saturday, December 7th at 7:00 in the Mohawk auditorium. Adult tickets are $10, student tickets are $5, and Mohawk students are free! Tickets will be available for purchase on the night of the production. To reserve tickets in advance, call (413)-768-9979. Due to the mature themes of this show, we do not recommend that young children attend.  See you there!

The Mohawk High School Concert Chorus will be participating in performances of "The Crucible" on December 6 and 7 at 7:00 pm. They will be singing a haunting adaptation of one of the Psalms, connected to the action in the play.

Mohawk’s Winter Concert is Thursday, December 12 at 6:30 pm

The High School and Middle School music ensembles will be sharing their incredible work. This year's concert will include pop music, folk songs, classical masterpieces, Yiddish music, dancing, and songs to get us into the Holiday Spirit! Bands, Choirs, and the new high school Rock Band will be performing.

Congratulations to Zach Arfa, who has been accepted to the Western District Music Festival Chorus

Several Mohawk Music students auditioned at Westfield State University on November 9, which included singing a solo, two scales, and sight-singing. Asked why they took the audition, students said, "We came to the audition to gain professional auditioning experience, to become more comfortable performing for an audience, and to test our ability to perform under pressure." One student said, "It helped me be less afraid of formal auditions. It's a lot less scary and intimidating than it seems." 

This audition ended up being very competitive, but Zach's audition received an extremely high score. He will be performing with a group of advanced high school singers in the Festival Concert at UMass on January 11 at 3:00pm. Tickets are $7.00. Zach plans to audition for the All-State Honor Chorus in January, and is already practicing!

The Mohawk Music Association (MMA) has a new Facebook page

Please "Like" the MMA on Facebook! And then spread the word - ask your friends and family to "Like" the MMA on Facebook, too! This will be a place for updates, photos, videos, stories, and other Mohawk Music related items. The Facebook page will help friends and family near and far take part in the excitement of our Music program! So check it out, and spread the word! Your "Like" will help support the Music program at Mohawk!  Check out the Mohawk Music Association’s website which features an article about recent Mohawk graduate Francesca Maroney who is will be performing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a member of the UMass Marching Band.  

The MMA website’s homepage is : and the article about Francesca is available through this link:

Mohawk’s Select Chorus performed in concert with Hilltown Harmony

On Saturday, November 23, the Mohawk High School Select Chorus performed in a joint concert with the multigenerational Hilltown Harmony Community Choir at Trinity Church.   The event was a benefit for the local food pantry and the concert featured pop music, folk music, classical selections, and songs from around the world.   Shelley Roberts, Choral Director for Hilltown Harmony, joins our staff as Director of our All-School Musical this year. Link to video of performances.

Join us for the public performance of "A Legacy of Rural Music, People, and Place”: Ashfield, Buckland, Hawley, Plainfield: 1800s - 1940s, on Monday, November 25, at 12:45 pm.

On Monday afternoon, November 25, a number of musicians will be sharing local music and storytelling traditions with our high school students.  The program, created and produced by local artist Jackie Cooper, focuses on the tradition of music and storytelling that has shaped our cultural heritage.  This performance of "A Legacy of Rural Music, People, and Place” reveals a piece of our local hill town life from the 1800 - 1940s.  

The program culminates a period of research followed by a weeklong workshop, where local amateur musicians with a variety of skill levels and seasoned musicians collaborated in developing the performance, and where the "passing it on" tradition inherent to music and storytelling was embraced. “Passing it on” is a colloquialism from old-time music practitioners; it makes reference to the act of “appreciating and ingesting the gift of the prior generation.”  As generations pass, face-to-face connection to descendants of our locale's first settlers is declining.  In each of our local communities, we are the bearers of the gift of cultural heritage - the link between the past and the future.  

One can read about the past, but participating in the music and storytelling infuses it with the uniqueness of individual expression, reflecting changing times, while keeping the connection going for the next generation.

This program is sponsored by County Dance and Song Society and is funded in part by Mass Humanities. The program was created and produced by Jackie Cooper.  This performance is free and open to the public.  The show begins at 12:45 pm.

Stay tuned for more information about our All-School Musical

In the coming weeks you can expect to hear lots more about the show, including information about auditions which will be held in December.  

Mohawk alumna Shelley Roberts will be directing this year’s show.  Ms. Roberts is an adjunct instructor of Voice and Theater at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and Choral Director of the multigenerational Hilltown Harmony Community Choir.  In 2012 Ms. Roberts organized the Mohawk Music Association’s Alumni Concert, bringing together professional and amateur musicians from across the decades of the Mohawk music program.  

We are excited to have Ms. Roberts back at Mohawk, where she began her career as a musical performer appearing on stage in many a Mohawk musical during her high school years.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Video of Hilltown Harmony/Select Chorus Concert

Mohawk Select Chorus (video screenshot)
Mohawk Select Chorus sings "Scarborough Fair":

Hilltown Harmony Multigenerational Choir (video screenshot)
Hilltown Harmony Multigenerational Choir sings "The Lion Sleeps Tonight":

Thank you to Wanda Mooney for providing the videos of two of the songs performed last Saturday at the Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mohawk Alum Marching in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Francesca Maroney teaches the "Jump!" tradition to a group of visiting middle and high school students. Photo credit Alyson Villard Photography.

Mohawk alumna Francesca Maroney (class of 2012) is a sophomore at UMass Amherst and a member of the UMass Marching Band (UMMB). Next week she will travel to New York City with her alto saxophone and perform with the band in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

In her years at Mohawk Francesca was a member of the Band, and she was Stage Manager and did other behind-the-scenes work for the All-School Musicals. She was awarded a Mohawk Music Association scholarship at Senior Awards Night.

She recently took some time from her busy academic and band schedule to answer some questions about her experiences with the UMass Marching Band.

Q.  First, what's going on in the photo at the top of this article?

A.  The sculpture is called Quinnipiac, but it is colloquially referred to as the "pants". In that picture, I'm greeting middle and high school students who have come to see the Multibands Pops Concert matinee, and so, leading them through a goofy tradition -- if you walk through the pants, you have to jump and shout, "Pants!" It's a great way to get the kids involved and excited for the concert.

Q.  You were a talented musician in the Mohawk Music Department. Were you prepared for the transition from a small high school band to a large university band with a national reputation of excellence?

A.  I was in no way prepared for the UMMB. I distinctly remember band camp last year. First off, there's much more to being in a marching band than playing an instrument. I don't believe we played a single note the first day of band camp. Instead we learned how to stand, how to hold our instruments, and how to walk. And when we were in our sections, well, the alto saxophones had more rookies than Mohawk had members in the band! And there were people who had been in marching bands in high school, and excellent marching bands, ones that competed. The first day of band camp, learning how to stand at attention, learning a chant that I can now repeat in my sleep (How are your feet? Together! Stomach? In! Chest? Out! Shoulders? Back! Elbows? Frozen! Chin? Up! Eyes? With pride!), I felt like I was just getting swept along for the ride. And then there was the rest of band camp. We were out on the fields at 8 in the morning, and worked, with breaks for lunch and dinner of course, straight through until after 11 at night for a week. I was legitimately terrified that band would be too much effort throughout the school year. It takes a lot of work to make an ensemble that doesn't turn away anybody into the best band anywhere. But after band camp, daily rehearsals were a breeze.

 Q. How much time do you devote to the UMMB in an average week? How do you balance band and academic demands?

A. We rehearse every school day from 4:40 ("band o'clock") to 6:10, but sectionals start 10 minutes early. I'd say that I, as your average, run-of-the-mill bando, put in about 2 hours a day... not including game days, which have us up before the sun. It does take effort to balance band and school work; I have to take advantage of the time I have and balance my priorities. Last year it took little effort to manage classes and band. This year presents more of a struggle, as I'm working as a peer mentor in a first-year residence hall on top of everything.

Q. What is your major at UMass? (and may I mention that you made Dean's List Honors last semester - congrats) 

A.  I am a Computer Systems Engineering major at UMass, and part of the Commonwealth Honors College.

Q.  How does it feel to know that on Thanksgiving Day you'll be performing in front of a live audience of an estimated 2 - 3 million viewers and 45 -50 million (wow!!) TV viewers?

A.  At this point in the semester, we are almost done with football season; our last game is on Saturday. So we're devoting more and more time to working on drill and music for Macy's, and are reminded on almost a daily basis how visible we are. It seems almost unreal, I guess. We're going on TV in front of millions of people who have never heard of the UMMB, and have a minute and 15 seconds of fame to show them who we are. But it's going to be like any other performance. I, personally, am simply going to do the best that I can, like I do every time I put on the uniform.

Q.  What will you say if you get a "Hi Mom!" moment with an NBC-TV camera?

A.  The odds of a "Hi Mom!" moment with an NBC TV camera are slim to none for me, unfortunately, so I haven't thought of what I would say. One of the great things about the UMMB is that we have so much student leadership; our drum majors are students, as are our field staff and section leaders, and we have student volunteers for administrative staff, from our band managers to travel, equipment, personnel, website, library, uniform, public relations... the list goes on and on. There's even a fraternity and sorority connected with the band-- Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma. The people involved in these things have devoted so much to the band, I'd hope they get some recognition!

To quote George N. Parks, "Being in the band is the greatest thing you could ever do and don't let anyone tell you differently." I'm so glad that I decided to stay with band at a collegiate level, and I would encourage any Mohawk Music alumni at UMass to join the marching band... or at least check us out at a football game! Comparing it to Mohawk music would be impossible, it's an entirely different animal, but being a part of it has helped me grow as a musician and as a person.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will be broadcast on NBC-TV on Thanksgiving morning from 9 am to noon. According to a UMass press release, the UMass Marching Band is "scheduled to perform on NBC-TV in front of Macy’s flagship store at Broadway and 34th Street at 11:24 a.m. where it will play the fan favorite, “Big Noise from Winnetka.” Other songs the band will play along the route include “Fight UMass,” “God Bless America,” “Roll Down the Field” and “Sweet Caroline.”"

Watch the 2011 UMMB perform “Big Noise from Winnetka” on YouTube. Francesca says "the part of "Big Noise" we're playing is the end; the bit that starts at 4:10 in the video, since we only have 1:15 on the Macy's star".

The band will be performing a one hour practice march on Monday, November 25 on the UMass campus. Route and time details here.

Read more about the UMass Marching Band's Macy's parade:

Added 11/29/13  The March to Macy’s: The Story of the UMass Minuteman Marching Band series:

The UMass Marching Band performs in Boston in October, 2013. Photo credit Alyson Villard Photography.

Added 11/29/13  TV screenshots of the UMMB performance:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Select Chorus in Concert with Hilltown Harmony Chorus

Mohawk Select Chorus at Keene State College in October, 2013. Photo credit: Sue Cole.
The Mohawk Select Chorus is performing in a concert on Saturday, Nov. 23 with the Hilltown Harmony Multigenerational Chorus! The concert will be at 3pm at Trinity Church, 17 Severance St., Shelburne Falls (map).

This event is free and open to the public. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, please bring a non-perishable food item to share! Donations will be given to local food pantries.

Hilltown Harmony Multigenerational Chorus. Photo credit:
The Hilltown Harmony Multigenerational Chorus is directed by Mohawk alumna Shelley Roberts, and the Mohawk Select Chorus is directed by Scott Halligan. Amy Roberts-Crawford is accompanist.
The Select Chorus will perform
  • Scarborough Fair
  • The Storm is Passing Over
  • Three Madrigals
  • O Too Short is Life
  • White Winter Hymnal

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Getting Ready for 12-12-13

Visit Mohawk Music Association's Valley Gives Day website! People who will be busy on Valley Gives Day (12/12/13) may schedule donations in advance.

Mohawk Music Association is one of the hundreds of nonprofits participating in the second annual Valley Gives day, scheduled for December 12, 2013. Valley Gives is an innovative online fundraising event that encourages individuals to donate as much money as possible in support of their favorite charities in just twenty-four hours. For more information about Valley Gives, visit

Mohawk Music Association members work throughout the year to:
  • raise funds to help the music department
  • provide scholarships to graduating music students
  • purchase and maintain uniforms & performance attire
  • assist the music department in its activities
  • encourage youth and adult interest in music

Participating in Valley Gives day will allow us to reach out to a broader community to support our goals. You can help now by going to our Facebook page and "like" us. Also encourage your family and friends to do the same. You may also keep up with the MMA events by following us on Twitter.

We're getting excited about 12-12-13! How about you?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Arts at Mohawk

From Principal Lynn Dole's November 11, 2013 Newsletter:

In the coming month there will be many opportunities for you to see our students performing:

Select Chorus will be performing in a joint concert with Hilltown Harmony on Saturday, November 23, 3:00pm at Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls.

Mohawk presents Arthur Miller’s play "The Crucible" on the weekend of December 6-8 (snow dates: Dec. 13-15).

2013 Spring Concert
The Winter Concert will be on Thursday, December 12, at 6:30pm (snow date: Dec. 19). This is also Valley Gives Day - a day of philanthropy throughout Western Massachusetts. Support Music at Mohawk by donating to the Mohawk Music Association on 12-12-13! For more information, go to:

From Mohawk Music Association President Sherry Taylor (email 11/12/13):

The MMA has many exciting events in the works and we would like you to be included in the fun either in person or online. Please "like" us on facebook and invite your friends and relatives to like us, too.  We want 500 friends by Thanksgiving and we would love for you to be one of them.  So, please like us and pass it on.

December has some wonderful happenings going on in the music and drama departments:

December 6th and 7th be sure to  come to "The Crucible" presented by MAEC (Mohawk Arts and Education Council) being performed live on the stage at Mohawk.  You will see many familiar faces on the stage . . . and some new ones.

December 12th is the night of the Holiday Music Performance at Mohawk.  Take a few hours out of your busy schedule and come to Mohawk and enjoy some wonderful holiday music.

Also, coming on 12/12/13 . . . stay tuned for more information.

Just an FYI to everyone, the pie sale at Booster Day brought in over $300 and the baked potato booth at the Ashfield Fall Festival brought in $4,100+.  A big THANK YOU to everyone who supported these events in one way or another.  Many hands make light work!

Thank you for all you do to support the arts at Mohawk.  Keep up the good work.
Principal Lynn Dole buys a slice of pie from the Mohawk Music Association at the 2013 Booster Day Football Game.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Spelling Bee Update

The Mary Lyon Foundation Community Spelling Bee began with a song last night and ended with three triumphant notes.

Mohawk Select Chorus performs "The Storm is Passing Over."

After the judges' opening remarks, Mohawk's Select Chorus unexpectedly jumped up on the small stage in the rear of the auditorium and sang "The Storm is Passing Over", much to the delight of the crowd.

The Grand Championship Round ended when the word succedaneum was successfully spelled by The Three Bees: "Sometimes Be Sharp, Never Be Flat, and Always Be Natural".

The Merry Lion congratulates The Three Bees "Sometimes Be Sharp, Never Be Flat, and Always Be Natural", representing Mohawk Trail Concerts, sponsored by Slowinski Wood Products. John Clark, Cornelia Read, Amy Metzler-Clough. Photo credit Mary Lyon Foundation.

View the complete list of spelling bee words here.

See more photos on the Mary Lyon Foundation Facebook page. It was another fun evening to raise money for a good cause!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bee There

Mary Lyon
The Mary Lyon Foundation has been a generous supporter of arts and education in the Mohawk School District for many years. On Tuesday, November 12, at 6:30 pm they are hosting the eighth annual Community Spelling Bee in the auditorium at Mohawk. Thirty 3-person teams sponsored by local businesses will compete for the spelling trophy and bragging rights. They will also be vying for Best Costume, as they all compete garbed in elaborate costumes. Read more about this event in an article in Thursday's Greenfield Recorder: Spellers Unite for Community Bee.

7th Annual Spelling Bee Champions! (Their brains are so large they don't fit inside their skulls.)
You never know what will happen after the introductory remarks from the Spelling Bee judges, so come early to get a good seat. Bring your pen and notebook and attempt to come up with the correct spelling of the word before the teams raise their whiteboards for the judges.

The Mary Lyon Foundation also raises money at the event by selling tickets for more than 20 great raffle prizes. Buy a string of tickets and try your luck!

Want to test your skills with a few practice words before the big event? Here's a list of the words used in the 2009 Community Spelling Bee, along with the name of the winning team for each round. From approbation to zoological, 45 words to bend your mind.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dr. Bullock's presentation - photos

Mr. Halligan and Dr. Kathy Bullock on stage

Music Director Scott Halligan, Principal Lynn Dole, and the Mohawk High School student body enjoying the show!
See more photos by Christina Gabriel from the presentation and workshop here:

In case you missed Principal Dole's October 27 newsletter, here's what she and Mr. Halligan had to say about the experience:

Principal Lynn Dole
On Friday, October 18, Dr. Kathy Bullock gave an inspiring presentation to our high school students.  She had everyone in the auditorium singing and dancing in a presentation that wove together musical performance with historical context as she recounted elements of African-American history and the evolution of musical forms and traditions. Dr. Bullock, her sister Dr. Dee (Diane White-Clayton), and her brother-in-law Joe Clayton met with students in Scott Halligan’s chorus course before the event, and the presentation began and ended with our high school chorus students performing on stage with our honored guests. It was a powerful experience for everyone involved. Dr. Bullock’s presentation to Mohawk students was made possible through the generous support of the Mohawk Music Association and MAEC (Mohawk Arts and Education Council).

Mr. Halligan
A week after Booster Day, we hosted musician and educator Dr. Kathy Bullock at Mohawk. Dr. Bullock gave an inspiring presentation to the high school on African American Music that had the whole school moving, singing, and laughing together! She also worked with our High School Concert Chorus in an impromptu rehearsal that was simply unforgettable!