When parents and friends of Suffield High School music students crowded into the school auditorium for the annual spring concert on May 26, many of them knew that this was to be a very special event. And it certainly was. In the audience this time there were a large number of former students, even some who brought their children and grandchildren. For this was to be the last spring concert of music director Joseph Migliore, who was retiring after 38 years at the school.
A smaller recognition took place four days later, when the music director’s plan was mentioned by First Selectman Colin Moll at the Town’s Memorial Day ceremony.
The SHS Spring Concert began with two numbers by the SHS Jazz Ensemble, which Joe Migliore directed. Following that came a number of vocal pieces by the school’s Chamber Ensemble, directed by Mary DiRoberts. One piece involved a half-dozen impressive solo performances by individual members of the ensemble.
Then the stage filled with the SHS Symphonic Band, very much like a large symphony orchestra, but lacking the strings and adding extra percussion, all directed by Migliore. The band offered strong performances of several challenging numbers, then as the musicians were leaving the stage, one trombonist took the microphone and announced a special presentation. This was John-Henry Blake, who had also appeared with the name Joe Blake as the Chamber Ensemble’s baritone. Joe/John-Henry announced that a number of interviews had been assembled into a video — students, alumni, faculty and others — all speaking of their experiences with Migliore and the great effect he had had on their lives. The projection screen was prepared and the video began. It was a compilation of how one man, over many years, had changed many lives for the better.
Then the instrumentalists reassembled on stage, and their popular leader returned. Gifts and commendations followed, and a brief coda was offered by the players. Migliore spoke on stage about how pleased he had been with his students and associates over the years, but the warmest comments and greetings took place down front after the stage cleared, where reunions and photographs continued. This year’s spring concert was certainly a grand finale to a most successful career.