As a vital asset to a local cause for many years, Nashua High School South's Music Department teaches much more than the importance of art and music to students.
For 11 years, the department has donated between $1,500 and $3,000 each year to the Santa Fund, with money raised through concerts.
Started by The Telegraph in 1962, the Santa Fund was established to help struggling parents provide gifts for their children during the holidays. For more than a decade, the Salvation Army and Nashua Pastoral Care have been helping to register families and distribute gifts.
The concert for the Santa Fund has become so popular in recent years that the department decided to split the performance into two nights this year.
"We decided to do two nights of exactly the same performance," said Sophia Santerre, Director of Choirs at Nashua South.
Santerre, who is originally from Keene, has been with Nashua South for 11 years. There, she teaches all choral performing groups, ensemble courses, musicianship courses and music history and appreciation. Santerre has been the director and musical director of several musical theater productions and has taught general music at all grade levels. An avid saxophone and clarinet player herself, Santerre's performing groups continually receive high marks at state and national competitions.
Anthony Courounis Jr. is the director of bands at Nashua South and has been with the school since 1994, previously acting as assistant director of the music department.
New Hampshire state law requires students to take at least half a credit of the arts in high school, but being involved in the band or chorus at Nashua South is not required.
"We have close to 300 students in the music program," Santerre said. "The music department has grown a great deal."
Students have the option of being a member of the band, jazz ensemble or chorus, which includes chorale, concert choir, freshmen choir and jazz choir. Students in every grade are involved in the music department and will be performing at the annual holiday concert this week.
"For any of the performance groups, (students) sign up to be in the class," Santerre said. "The only group that is an auditioned group is the concert choir."
The second performance takes place tonight at 7 in the Nashua South auditorium. The chorale, freshmen choir, concert choir and concert band will perform holiday and winter pieces, and the show's finale will be the 11th annual performance of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. All two hundred voices of the choral students will sing with chorus alumni, faculty and parents and students from the concert band.
Tickets are $5 and are available at the door. Children 12 and younger get in for free but must have a ticket. For more information, call 589-8534 or 589-8540.
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This article appears in the December 5 2008 issue of New Hampshire Business Review