Great Gig Coming to a Screen Near You

Without skipping a beat, upper school music teacher Gilles Pugatch has promised a knockout Great Gig performance this year centered on the iconic Marvin Gaye classic soul album “What’s Going On.”

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Rehearsals are underway for this year’s online program that will be presented as “a visual album” via livestream during the weekend of May 28. According to Pugatch, this beloved annual Masters extravaganza “features musicians from all disciplines who study and realize a masterwork in the contemporary style.” 

Acclaimed musician Julius Rodriguez ’16 was brought on as an arranger who, Pugatch said, “gladly jumped at the opportunity.” Pugatch asked him for some record suggestions “that were manageable given our challenges with remote teaching and unpredictability, and we arrived at ‘What’s Going On.’”

Students were thrilled at the chance to honor Gaye’s music in this way. Great Gig group leader and Miscreants band member Mac Alexander ’22 shared: “When I heard we were doing it this year I was elated. The album was revolutionary in terms of the deeper political messages behind all of the lyrics, and also sonically for the sheer variety of sound included in this project.”

Adding her appreciation was Julia Levin ’21. The 49 Clinton band leader and Jazz Band member explained that “The album has this underlying foundation of jazz and R & B with a layer of funky rhythmic feel. And, Marvin Gaye's singing and storytelling truly bring out the soul within the music.”

Another special treat will be a performance from the Masters Justice Choir, led by director Sam Appiah ’12 and co-director Barbara Ciannella. “It’s rewarding to know that Great Gig has continued and thrived and that I can once again add whatever I can to such an amazing undertaking,” Appiah said.

The usual buzz that surrounds a Great Gig concert will be missed this year but everyone involved is banking on the same creative community spirit that is very much alive. Alexander has focused on the positive. “The pandemic made this Great Gig quite different from past performances, but it also allowed us to focus more on really perfecting our parts and let us have the ability to mix and master all of our tracks,” he explained. “And I hope the music can lift some people’s spirits and spread joy.”

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