On Oct. 25 at 7 p.m., Newark Valley alumni will gather for the tenth annual Newark Valley Alumni Community Concert at the Newark Valley High School. The proceeds from the concert will go toward funding seven $100 scholarships for qualified Newark Valley High School seniors.
The show will be about an hour and a half, including a brief intermission. Although there is no admission fee, donations are suggested at the door. Afterwards, there is a reception with alumni memorabilia available for purchase.
Alumni Jerry Marsh, who co-chairs the Alumni Community Concert Committee, explained how the concert began, stating, “The class of 1959 started it. I proposed the idea to the class and we had a committee and we produced it.”
In later years, the Newark Valley Alumni Association got involved and now the event is organized by the Alumni Community Concert Committee, which includes Marsh, fellow co-chair Colleen Bushnell, Newark Valley math teacher Bernard “Skip” Williams, and former music teacher Jewel Griffith.
Originally the concert was intended only to include performers who were Newark Valley alumni and teachers. However, because many alumni musicians play in bands that include non-alumni members, the concert was ultimately opened up to non-alumni as well, as long as the featured performer is an alumnus. Marsh said that more than 90 percent of the performers are alumni or faculty.
Currently, there are 14 performers signed up for this year, although the line-up is still subject to change. The one performer who has performed every year and will perform again in this year’s concert is Jenny Gac, Class of 2003. Gac has performed in numerous musicals and operas and is currently working as a choral director and music teacher in Whitney Point and a music director at the Endicott Performing Arts Center.
Another repeat performer is Zachary Lenox, Class of 2005. Lenox earned both a master’s degree in vocal performance and a bachelor’s degree in music education from SUNY Potsdam. He has performed throughout the U.S. and Canada and has participated in the Astoria Music Festival and the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival.
Current Newark Valley kindergarten teacher and 1986 district graduate Michael Harris will be playing with his son and the sons of his cousin, Skip Williams. Marsh said, “They really liven up the auditorium.”
Shanika Bridges, from the class of 2011, will be performing as well. Bridges began her music career in the second grade when she started playing the violin. Today, she plays nine different instruments and is the lead singer of a band, The Hook-Ups. She is a former Miss Tioga County and in 2011 she was Miss Teenager of New York. Bridges is currently attending Ithaca College.
Williams said that upwards of 400 people usually attend the event. He said, “I think it’s cool as a teacher to see people come back to perform in the concert.” Marsh said, “It brings the community together and gives them an opportunity to see and experience first-hand the talent that has emerged from Newark Valley High School.”