By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – A year in the making and inspired by local images and history, “Shrewsbury Fair,” an original piece written specifically for Shrewsbury, will debut Friday Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. in the Oak Middle School Auditorium, 45 Oak St. (Snow date is Saturday, Jan. 27.)
A specially combined eighth- and ninth-grade concert band will perform the piece under the direction of Band Director Anthony Uglialoro, and the evening will also include performances by the Shrewsbury High School Chamber Orchestra, the Oak Select Band, and the Oak Select Choir.
“The music parent group (the Shrewsbury Schools Music/Theater Association (SSMA)) had a good year a couple of years ago and had some money at the end of the year. They always ask what we need,” explained Uglialoro.
He and his colleagues in the schools’ Performing Arts Department had some ideas and came up with the concept of commissioning a musical composition written for the school.
Uglialoro knew of a composer, George Lam, who might do it for a reasonable price. He happened to be available. Lam was born in Hong Kong in 1981 and grew up in Winthrop. He is assistant professor of music and coordinator of music at York College, The City University of New York.
Uglialoro submitted the request to the SSMA and they were able to fund the project with partial assistance by a grant from the Shrewsbury Cultural Council, a local agency funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. With funding in place and a composer on board, the project was in motion.
Lam came to Shrewsbury last spring and held workshops in composition with the seventh- and eighth-graders at Oak Middle School.
“The piece was inspired by looking through Shrewsbury’s history and pictures of all sorts of things to find things to write about, things that were unique to Shrewsbury but not foreign to other towns,” Uglialoro shared.
“Shrewsbury Fair” is a suite of three movements and was composed with the input of music students. It opens with “General Ward Marches Home,” an imagined parade toward the Artemas Ward House on Main Street, followed by “Dean Park in Autumn,” a short study of the colors found in the iconic New England fall foliage. The work ends with “Quinsigamond Race Day,” an exciting regatta on the lake.
“It’s been a wonderful experience working with Mr. Uglialoro and the Oak Middle School bands for this new work,” Lam said. “It has been a remarkable process to learn about the history of Shrewsbury, to respond to these different locations in the town with music, and to share my work with the students of Oak Middle School.”
Lam will be in attendance along with local and regional officials at this special concert event.