The annual MARS Benefit Concert was held on Sunday, January 31st, at 2:00 pm in the P.Y. and Kinmay Tang Performing Arts Center at The Rectory School in Pomfret, CT.
What is MARS, you might ask? Isn’t it the fourth planet from the sun? So why does Rectory have an annual benefit concert for MARS?
MARS stands for Music at Rectory School. “The annual benefit concert was started eleven years ago by the administration and the Board of Trustees of The Rectory School to recognize the value of the arts in a child’s education and to extend their support of the arts to the local community,” according to Pat McCarthy, teacher and MARS Lesson Coordinator at Rectory.
Donna Bessette, Chair of Rectory’s Related Arts Program, explained the purpose of this concert. “The annual benefit concert is held to support the scholarship fund of the MARS Program, the music lesson program offered to students both within and outside of the Rectory School community. Each year the performers at the concert are the teachers, alumni, and special guests of the Music At Rectory School Program. All proceeds go to the MARS Scholarship Fund. Scholarships are provided exclusively to non-Rectory students through TEEG (Thompson Ecumenical Empowerment Group).”
Mrs. Bessette continued, “It’s a concert that showcases the talents of our private music lesson teachers. These are all professional musicians, and this year their individual performances ranged from classical to jazz to folk and pop. There was something for everyone!” The private music lesson teachers who participated in the concert were, as follows: Tara Borchert on flute; Michael Paglione on clarinet; Steve Lyons on trumpet; Patrick Slattery on alto sax; Ian Jackson on baritone sax; and Wayne Gasiorek on drums.
Mrs. Bessette, who teaches music courses at Rectory and is also the director of the middle school and elementary school music and drama programs, performed at the concert, as well. She played the flute on a few songs, and she played piano and sang with her group Nine6teen, which includes her husband, André Bessette, who plays the drums and sings vocals, Pat McCarthy on vocals, Brian Bastow on bass, David Carter on guitar, and Greg Nichols on guitar and vocals.
Samantha D’Angelo, the middle school orchestra leader, played the clarinet on a couple songs, and this year one of our newest teachers and Rectory School alum, Alex Wiegel, performed on the alto saxophone. Also playing at the concert was former Rectory School Music Director, Jacqueline Smith, who played piano, and Kurt Meyer, who played the bass guitar.
As previously stated, one hundred percent (100%) of the proceeds from this concert go toward a scholarship fund which makes it possible for local area students to take private music lessons, regardless of their financial means. The MARS Program works in conjunction with TEEG to identify those students who would benefit most from these scholarships. This year’s concert raised over $1,200 for the scholarship fund!
If you’d like to make a donation to this scholarship fund, you may do so by contacting The MARS Program at The Rectory School. It’s a great cause, and you’ll feel good about contributing to a scholarship that gives a local student the chance to receive a wonderful opportunity. As Pat McCarthy says, “Everyone deserves music in their life!”