'Blue' concert caps annual Griswold band camp
By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Tue., Jul. 5, 2011
The Griswold Middle School band kicked off the Independence Day weekend and capped its two-week band camp with a bang July 1, at an over-the-top public concert at the high school auditorium.
The annual event, now in its 23rd year, has become something of a local summer institution. Outrageous costumes, a rendition of “The Chicken Dance,” t-shirt giveaways and a patriotic grand finale featuring a balloon drop have all worked their way up to the status of “tradition.”
“It’s 200 kids who are willing to get up early” for two weeks in the summer, said GMS Band Director Kathy Bocciarelli of the band camp. The program features a string band, along with two orchestras grouped by grade level. Young musicians spend the mornings rehearsing, interspersed with some “down time” for fun. “Once they come once, they’ll be back every year,” Bocciarelli said.
Along with 200 middle school students, a number of high school “band aides” came to assist the five band directors with the program. This year’s staff included Griswold alumna Shannon Stevenson, who now teaches in Groton but who returned to her alma mater to lead the string orchestra.
This year’s theme was “Blue” – a theme which encompassed everything from Elvis’ “Blue Suede Shoes” to the Blues Brothers to the “Blue Danube” waltz, performed in mock-balletic style by a chorus line of male “band aides” replete with flowers in their teeth.
In yet another long-standing tradition, Choral Director Ray Churchill donned a costume for his annual solo. This year he wore a head-to-toe blue bodysuit and blue wig while singing the “Summer Band Blues,” an original composition by music teacher Lou Bocciarelli. The song related a litany of all the outrageous costumes he’d been coerced into wearing by Mr. Bocciarelli in past years.
Band members wore red-, white- and blue-louvered “shades” for their patriotic numbers, a nod to the upcoming Independence Day holiday. A medley of patriotic songs and a reading of the Preamble to the Constitution, backed by band music, capped the program prior to the balloon drop.
“There are great kids here,” said Kathy Bocciarelli. “The kids are so thrilled and so happy with themselves. There’s good camaraderie.”