Crosby Elementary's music program benefits from lively Williams College student performance


Photo Gallery: Williams College students performance

WILLIAMSTOWN -- The spirit of New Orleans' carnival season came to Williams College Monday night at a performance that inspired hand clapping and foot tapping from members of a large audience.

More than 120 people filled Goodrich Hall for the New Orleans-style street jazz performance concert, the final, culmination performance led by students in Andy Kelly's winter study course. By the end of the night, students had collected more than $400 to benefit the music department at Crosby Elementary School in Pittsfield.

"We have students who would like to play instruments, but can't afford to buy or rent them," Crosby Principal Donna Baker explained.

The school recently purchased instruments through a separate donation made by Kelly, she said.

"Then he thought as part of this evening, he would donate the money that was collected tonight," she said.

Crosby music teacher Robert Tatten said the money collected Monday will go directly toward purchasing new instruments for the students to use.

"A lot of other schools have school-owned instruments, but we don't have any," he said. "But now we're going to have a bunch. It's really exciting."

Kelly explained that the annual carnival season gears up this time of year in New Orleans and ends with Mardi Gras, which falls on March 4 this year. The Big Easy is a city that encourages public street performances.

"You see musicians on street corners all around. So we thought we'd model it on that," he said.

The 33 students watched videos in class of street performers all around the world, Kelly said. Each student then took a city and learned the styles of local street performers, as well as the local regulations they had to abide by.

"We went as far as Istanbul, Madrid, Paris, and London," he said. "There are different regulations in every city."

Monday's show, emceed by senior Demarius Edwards and junior Simone Frank, featured five different groups of students playing a variety of instruments and songs spanning several decades.

Destiny's Cousin, a five-girl ensemble featuring two violins, a viola, and a piano, performed a cover of "Clocks" by Coldplay, and followed with "Starship" by Nicki Minaj. Other covers which were given extra flair included Randy Newman's "You Got a Friend in Me," Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl," and the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army."

The evening ended with a conga line of performers and audience members that circled the entire room.

Williams students counted the audience's donations and presented them to Baker and Tatten before the end of the night.

"If we could harvest half the energy in this room and bring it back to our children, that would be great," Baker said.

To reach Edward Damon:
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