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Potomac Celebrates Music in Our Schools Month

In celebration of Music in Our Schools Month®, our music program recently hosted two remarkable concerts on March 6. The evening kicked off with a performance by the Intermediate and Upper School bands under the theme “Celebrating Composers of Color.” The concert, conducted by the esteemed Dr. Steven Cunningham of Hampton University, alongside resident percussion instructor Greg Holloway, showcased a diverse repertoire that captivated the audience's hearts. Following the bands’ performance, the Intermediate School Chorus and the Upper School Madrigal Singers gave a joint concert. 

For nearly 40 years, March has been officially designated by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) for the observance of Music In Our Schools Month®, the time of year when music education becomes the focus of schools and communities across the nation. “Music is an essential part of a well-rounded education at Potomac, and we encourage parents to continue to champion the cause of keeping music alive in all educational institutions,” shares Michael DiCuirci, Potomac band director.

The concert included performances by the Intermediate School concert band, Upper School concert band, and Upper School jazz band. Every work performed was by a composer of color. Students had an opportunity to work with both musicians during the week leading up to the concert. 

“The decision to focus on music written by composers of color is a deliberate one,” offers DiCuirci. “It's an opportunity for our students to explore and perform pieces they might not encounter in a traditional repertoire. This exposure broadens their musical horizons, deepens their appreciation for different cultures, and enhances their understanding of the world. For the composers, having their music performed is an acknowledgment of their contributions to the arts and an opportunity to inspire future generations of musicians.”

A gifted composer/arranger as well as a formidable trumpeter and improviser, Dr. Cunningham has performed with the Brass Band at Battle Creek, Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass, Josh Groban, El DeBarge, Lagniappe Brass Quartet, and others. He has performed in high-profile venues such as Carnegie Hall, DAR Constitution Hall, the Kennedy Center, Washington National Cathedral, Toronto Jazz Festival, the Tower Theater, Richmond Jazz Festival, and others. He was recently appointed assistant professor of music education at Hampton University, where he teaches a wide variety of courses, including applied trumpet.

Holloway, a drummer and percussionist, is a native of Washington, D.C. After a career in various Air Force Field Bands, he performed, as a civilian, with Hank Jones, Freda Payne, Carl Fontana, Rob McConnell, Chuck Israel, Jim Pugh, Gene Bertoncini, Maguire Sisters, Blackstone the Magician, Sheri Lewis, Bruce Conti, Rich Little, Aretha Franklin, and others. He is currently the staff drummer/percussionist for Metro Stage and works with Potomac’s percussion students. 

“Our goal was to spotlight the incredible contributions of composers from diverse backgrounds, creating an enriching and inclusive musical experience for all,” said Natalia Vilela, senior and co-organizer of the concert.

Some of the composers featured were Duke Ellington (Come Sunday), Yukiko Nishimura (Cherry Tree), Omar Thomas (Caribana Afterparty), and Ayatey Shabazz (Red Tails). 

Following the bands’ performances, the Intermediate School Chorus and the Upper School Madrigal Singers presented their annual joint concert. The US singers offered music by Dvoƙák, Mozart, Palestrina, and Vecchi, demonstrating their vocal progress and stylistic versatility. The IS singers then shared five anthems: "J’entends le moulin," "Alleluia Canon," "Guantanamera," "Imagine," and "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah." For the evening’s finale, the combined choruses presented the stirring "Go the Distance" from Hercules. Congratulations to all our student musicians! Intermediate School Chorus and the Upper School Madrigal Singers

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Potomac Celebrates Music in Our Schools Month

As part of Music in Our Schools Month®, students in Potomac’s Upper School recently organized a concert titled “Celebrating Composers of Color,” which was conducted by guest conductor Dr. Steven Cunningham of Hampton University and resident musician and composer Greg Holloway.

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