by David K. Rodgers
GREENSBORO – On Saturday, Sept. 16, a group of six talented local musicians gathered at the Greensboro United Church of Christ to give a concert in support of arts programming at the Lakeview School which provides kindergarten through sixth-grade education to students from Greensboro and Stannard.
The musicians who donated their energies to make this benefit performance happen were Roy MacNeil on violin, guitar and vocals, Mavis MacNeil on guitar, saxophone, banjo, flute and vocals, Andrew Koehler on piano and percussion, Alice Perron on guitar, vocals and clogging, Randy Bulpin on guitar, dobro and vocals, and Leslie Campos on violin, guitar and vocals.
Lakeview Principal, Lisa McCarthy spoke at the beginning of the event and was quite moved by the turnout of people to rally around the school, which has seen declining enrollment in recent years (a general demographic trend all around the state) due to a variety of factors. She mentioned upcoming programs encouraging music and drama as well as visiting residencies by the Modern TImes Theater and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, combined with collaboration with the Highland Center for the Arts, which should help to attract more students. The school is very much at the heart of this community and benefits everyone in many measurable and intangible ways.
The concert began with a catchy, upbeat tune with appropriate lyrics, entitled “I Can Tell That We Are Gonna Be Friends,” about coming happily to school at the end of summer and finding a new friend. Mavis MacNeil’s strong, pure toned voice was very beautiful here. The violin, two guitars, and piano then played variations on the melody before a reprise of the chorus.
Following this Perron and Mavis MacNeil sang a French folk tune with engaging rhythms and cheerful ambiance.
Next, Roy MacNeil started off with a short excerpt from one of Bach’s solo violin works, to be joined by all the others, morphing into a fine lilting reel. A love song “Waltz Across Texas,” was sung by Mavis MacNeil and Perron, and given a moving ensemble effect from the group.
Another French song with a danceable rhythm followed. Dolly Parton’s “Light of A Clear Blue Morning” featured Mavis and Roy MacNeil and Koehler, with a slower tempo.
Everyone participated with their instruments in Pachabel’s “Canon in D Major,” which soon transitioned to a dance tune, with Campos and Roy MacNeil having fun in an energetic duet on their violins.
Bulpin and Campos shifted tempo with a haunting version of “Autumn Leaves,” especially lovely here with Campos’ expressive voice which brought out the melancholy mood of this classic.
A song about water (quite a topical subject this summer in Vermont) spotlighted short solo improvisations by both Bulpin and Roy MacNeil.
An Irish dance tune got Perron doing some vigorous clogging and the audience joining in, clapping in syncopation.
The wistful “Ashokan Farewell” was played with a lot of deep feeling and followed by another violin piece, “Catharsis” by Amy Cann, a fiddler and music teacher from Putney.
Mavis MacNeil and Koehler returned with a poignant love song, “All the Things you Are,” by Kerns & Hammerstein, with skillful piano permutations on a moving theme.
“I Love you Honey, I love your money, but most of all I love your automobile!” was the refrain from a Patsy Klein number, sung with sly humor by Mavis MacNeil and Perron to delightful instrumental accompaniment by Roy MacNeil, Campos and Bulpin.
The audience joined in on rhythm on “Monsieur Jonah,” a joyous tale of miraculous escape, told in French and English.
Paul Simon’s “Only Living Boy in New York” gave a nostalgic nod to all the great popular music of the ’60s and ’70s.
The last selection on the program was the Afro-American spiritual, “This Little Light of Mine,” in which all the musicians and most of the audience joined with enthusiasm.
The audience then rose in a well-deserved standing ovation for such a generous concert to support and financially benefit Lakeview Union School where we all hope the lights continue to shine.