Lake Region rocks at Parker Pie
copyright the Chronicle 5-22-13
WEST GLOVER — “It’s different on a lighted stage than on the gym floor,” Jared Wiggett observed Friday night. He was taking a breather on the deck at Parker Pie during a break in a concert called Lake Region Rocks.
The stage he was talking about was upstairs in the restaurant’s Village Hall. And the gym floor was a few miles north at Lake Region Union High School, where generations of students have demonstrated their musical talents for their parents, grandparents and the community’s music lovers.
Friday’s event was decidedly different.
“It’s a lot more like a rock show,” said Spencer Perry, who like Mr. Wiggett, had already taken the small stage at the Pie several times to play or sing.
Students kept popping up in different combinations, with different instruments. Sometimes they teamed up with professionals.
One was Dr. D., their new music teacher. Sara Doncaster backed her students up on piano, sang with them, and seemed not at all like a classically trained musician with a doctorate in music theory and composition from Brandeis University.
The other three pros make up a popular local band, The Evansville Transit Authority. Kyle Chadburn, Chris Doncaster and Travis Leblanc are Lake Region alumnae.
“After all the things we did at Lake Region, it’s an honor to be asked back,” Mr. Chadburn quipped as his group opened Friday’s show.
The idea, dreamed up by Parker Pie’s events and design director, Meg Gibson, was to team student musicians up with professionals in the sort of setting they can look forward to, should music become a career pursuit.
“I just wanted to give these kids a chance to get up on the stage,” Ms. Gibson told the audience that packed the small house Friday night.
Interviewed during the break, Mr. Chadburn, lead vocalist and guitarist with his band, confessed that he was having a pretty good time.
Indeed, he said, “We’re having a blast.
“They make us think again,” Mr. Chadburn said of the student musicians. “They’re keeping us on our toes. I’m hoping this will become a yearly thing.”
Part of the fun, Mr. Chadburn said, was due to the “overwhelming enthusiasm” Ms. Doncaster has for music and the students who like to make it.
She has stepped into the very large shoes of Peter Gage, who taught music at Lake Region for 37 years. And if Ms. Doncaster’s style of leadership is a departure from Mr. Gage’s, she nevertheless brings a strong sense of continuity to the position.
She grew up on Warebrook Farm in Irasburg and graduated from Lake Region in 1982. She still has her fourth-grade clarinet music book with Mr. Gage’s hand-written annotations, she said in an interview after Friday’s show.
She is familiar with some of her present students as both a private teacher and a music teacher in the elementary schools of Lowell, Newport Center and Coventry.
One such student is Katie Lucas, who stopped the show Friday night with a stunning blues number, her voice backed up by Dr. D. on keyboard, her nephew Chris Doncaster on bass guitar, and Spencer Perry on drums.
Ms. Lucas, a freshman at Lake Region, now lives in Brownington. But she grew up in Lowell, where Ms. Doncaster was her music teacher.
Another fine voice on Friday’s stage emerged from Celine Marcotte of Barton, who started studying piano with Ms. Doncaster at age five.
Friday’s show left one with the impression that people had a wonderful time on both sides of the footlights.
And that, Ms. Doncaster said, is entirely the point.
“Performance is not about perfection,” she said later. “It’s about getting the feeling — about enjoying themselves.”
There is one sad footnote to this story. Ms. Doncaster’s commitment to her new job has forced the cancellation of a project she began in 1991, while still a student at Brandeis. The Warebrook Contemporary Music Festival, which for decades has brought composers and performers of new music to the family farm and concert halls around the area, will not take place this summer.