Old Rochester celebrates the season with song

Dec 14, 2023

There’s never a quiet moment in the Old Rochester Regional School District. From two holiday concerts on Wednesday, Dec. 13 to a special performance of the Sippican School Band in New Bedford on Thursday, Dec. 14, student musicians have kept busy during the holidays.

At Old Hammondtown Elementary School, the school’s bands and chorus performed songs like “On this Winter Holiday,” by Kirby Shaw; “Zydeco Boogaloo,” by Buckwheat Zydeco and “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson.

“I think it went really well, and I'm really proud of the progress the band has made so far,” said Old Hammondtown Band Director Brent Alger “I can't wait to see how the rest of the year goes.”

Old Hammondtown Chorus Director Willow Dowling, who will retire at the end of the year, added “I was very proud and pleased with yesterdays performance. The chorus did a wonderful job especially with their harmony parts. The jazz band and concert bands did an excellent job as well.”

Later that night, musical ensembles from Old Rochester Regional High School including the concert band, jazz band and chorus put on their annual holiday concert.

Jazz band percussionist Jay Carrillo said that “everyone really nailed their solos.”

“It just felt really good to be out there playing music,” added Carrillo.

Freshman Olivia Thompson sang in the chorus and said that “Betelehemu,” a Nigerian holiday song by Via Olatunji and Wendell Whalum, was one of the more challenging pieces of the night.

“It was very difficult because we had to enunciate our words very clearly,” she said. “It was in a whole different language.”

“You did really well actually,” added her father, Alan Thompson.

For Barnicle, his goal was to keep the performances “interesting.”

“My main priority is to do as many different styles with each ensemble as possible,” he said. “Something slow, something fast — to keep it interesting for the audience as much as it is for the kids.”

Then, on Thursday, the Sippican School Band under the direction of Hannah Moore, traveled across the Acushnet River into New Bedford and performed at “AHA Night.”

AHA night, which stands for Art, History and Architecture, is a monthly event where cultural organizations, galleries and museums in New Bedford offer programs throughout the city.

The band set up at Custom House Square in New Bedford and played a selection of holiday tunes and Sippican School Band standards like “Grand Old Flag.”

“We really love this opportunity and AHA has been a really special thing,” said Moore. “To have that opportunity to have my kids step out of Marion and their usual routines and the famous, spectacular city right next door — I love that.”

Sippican School musicians have been performing at New Bedford’s December AHA night for over five years, she said.

“We wanted to bring holiday cheer to downtown [New Bedford] … and ask the Sippican Band to come,” said Interim AHA Night Coordinator Kim Goddard. “We’re excited to have them here bringing holiday cheer.”