MAUHS to host Beatles concert with NJ School

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BENNINGTON — Love and friendship are, appropriately, two of the driving forces behind Mount Anthony Union High School's upcoming concert featuring music from the Beatles.

This concert is part of an ongoing consortium with Cedar Grove High School in New Jersey, in which the two schools have come together every other year for the past eight.

"It's kind of selfish, because it's an opportunity for my best friend and I to get together and do something we love," said MAU's Choral Director Lynn Sweet. "The whole concept is about music and friendship, and it's grown to be a tradition now."

Sweet's friendship with Cedar Grove's choral director Jennifer Foose was the prelude for these biennial performances, dating back to the early 1990's. The two women were roommates at Hartwick College, and have maintained a close friendship, though their careers have taken them to different states.

These series of concerts began with a celebration of friendship, utilizing the music of James Taylor and Carole King. The two schools have also managed to put on two full musicals over the years, performing Les Miserables and Hairspray. Each performance is done at both schools, and in April 45 student musicians and chaperones traveled with Sweet to Cedar Grove for their first Beatles performance.

"We always try to pick something that the kids will be excited about, but also something that we can work on separately and put together in the one day we have to rehearse together," said Sweet. "The Beatles have such an extensive library of songs, and we knew the kids would really get into it."

The two instructors are able to incorporate more than just music into this exchange, however.

"We both have also used the topic to discuss the history of the Beatles," said Sweet. "The kids have all done presentations about their favorite songs and events in the 1960's, which was a great way to integrate other subjects into this as well."

While Sweet says that it is always a challenge to choose the right music for these performances, The Beatles have remained popular with the High School students.

"There's over 35 songs we're doing from the Beatles library," said Sweet. "The kids are having a great time preparing, and it's always fun to watch High School kids doing what they love."

The exchange between these schools is not just a celebration of the longstanding friendship between Sweet and Foose, but also an opportunity for students to connect with each other.

"They totally love it, they get to meet new people and they all end up making new connections," said Sweet. "I've had students that have gone to auditions for colleges, and they run into someone they've met from Cedar Grove."

For these two schools, this unique connection is an inspiring way to celebrate the unifying power that music can provide.

"They've got this connection that is very unique," said Sweet. "I don't know of any other two schools that come together in this way."

The Beatles will run for one night only this Friday, May 19, in the MAU auditorium bringing together close to 150 student musicians from choir, band, orchestra, and jazz band. The performance will begin at 7 p.m., and admission is $5 at the door.

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.

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