At the Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association (MICCA) Concert Festival March 31, and April 1, gold symbolized not wealth in money, but rather the wealth of dedicated musicians at Concord-Carlisle High School.
This year, CCHS earned an astounding four gold medals – one from every ensemble that attended. The CCHS Concert Band, Symphonic Band (Combined Repertory and Concert Band), and Orchestra –100 instrumentalists – performed at Danvers High School under the direction of Christopher Noce and student-teacher Abigail Pixley.
The 20 vocalists of the CCHS Select Choir performed at Westborough High School with choir director Deborah Smith. All four ensembles received gold medals, the highest possible rating.
For an entire school’s music program to bring home gold is “relatively, if not completely, unheard of,” Noce says.
Smith adds that she wasn’t expecting “the effusive praise we received.” “It was surreal,” she says. “I could not have been more proud.”
This rare achievement holds symbolic significance to both directors, as it was Noce’s first MICCA as the CCHS Director of Bands & Orchestras and Smith’s final MICCA as the CCHS Choir Director prior to her retirement at the end of this school year.
Noce, who previously directed instrumental ensembles at the elementary and middle schools across the district, explains that his first year has been about building community, and he is immensely grateful for his students’ trust that enabled “[pushing] the boundaries of what we perform.”
Smith says she will always remember this “very special” occasion of “[having] our Select Choir recognized… in my last year.”
Each group performed exceptionally, which Noce says created “a sense of pride and accomplishment” across all of the ensembles. To Noce, “the recognition of our hard work” through the awarded gold medals only elevated this sentiment.
“I was very pleased with our performance; the kids really rose to the occasion,” says Smith about the Select Choir performance. “To then be awarded a gold medal was the icing on the cake.”
The repertoire chosen by both conductors was complex. “The challenge is to be able to connect the dots” between dynamics, articulation, blend, and other aspects in one live performance, Smith said, “I was confident that the students would be able to bring everything we worked on to the stage and they did.”
Senior Sophie Richardson says, “It was really special to win gold my final year with the same director I first started with in fourth grade; we came full circle! Especially bittersweet for me was performing “Our Director,” the source material for our CCHS fight song—that repertoire choice really brought out my pride in this music program and our community spirit.”
Noce explains that this year’s tremendous achievement is a testament to “the quality of music programs at CCHS” that enable students to “participate… at a really rigorous level.” Noce said, “When musicians do well, [others often] say ‘Oh, they’re so talented.’ It’s not talent. These students work really, really hard—hours upon hours of… preparation.”
Whether talent or effort or a combination of both, this feat is undoubtedly an occasion to celebrate the passion and dedication of both the wonderful students and the conductors of CCHS’s performing arts ensembles.
The CCHS Concert Band will be performing at the Gold Medal showcase at Groton Hill Music Center on Saturday, April 15 at 4pm. Admission is free.