Celebrating Ten Years of Great Gig With a Perfect “Ten”

When performing arts teacher and Great Gig Assistant Director Sam Appiah '12 saw the Claudia Boettcher Theatre stage during Great Gig rehearsals, he was transported to his senior year of high school.

“All these amps and mics definitely bring back memories,” he said. It left him feeling “immensely nostalgic.” 

Ten years ago, as a senior at Masters, Appiah played keyboards and sang in the same spot during the first Great Gig in the Sky production: a salute to Pink Floyd’s legendary “Dark Side of the Moon” album. Great Gig is the School’s collaborative rock music concert that has since grown into a beloved annual event that marked its 10th anniversary on April 29 and 30. This year’s performance was a nod to ’90s alt-rock band Pearl Jam and its iconic debut album, “Ten.” 

Upper school music teacher and Great Gig Director Gilles Pugatch said Appiah “was a pivotal member of that first production. It was so thrilling to have him back working on the project as a faculty member.”

Members of the school community — including 81 students, seven faculty members and two alumni (Scott Collins 12’ and Buster Scheuer ’20) — either performed on stage, helped out behind the scenes, or both. “As always, the sheer number of students involved in the production is incredible,” Pugatch said. “Having so many members of the community gather and work in common is exhilarating.”

For the first time, under the direction of middle school music teacher John-Alec Raubeson, middle school students joined the fun as the “8th Greaters.” Raubeson was blown away by their rendition of the song “Garden.” 

“Every one of the 8th Greaters has earned my respect,” Raubeson said. “From a middle school vantage point, the Upper School can seem larger than life. It takes courage and grit to get up on stage in front of an audience. It’s even harder as a middle schooler to perform in front of an upper school audience, but they did it with their might and killed it!” 

Another Great Gig first-timer was Sam Gotthelf ’23, who worked as part of the tech team on lighting design. Gotthelf called it “an awesome time” because “I was able to be a part of making the show a good experience for audiences and performers.”

Senior Alec Gould ’22 was lead vocalist on “Jeremy,” “Why Go” and “State of Love and Trust” and appreciated the energy and respect from all involved. “I think this was the best way to finish my last Great Gig,” they said. “It was an amazing experience, and I'm glad I could go out with a bang.”

Chair of the Department of Performing Arts Jen Carnevale explained that “Many members of our community had never seen a Great Gig live so it was exciting to reintroduce everyone to what it is – and the audience responded enthusiastically and energetically!”

Jason Hult, director of learning initiatives and a Strong Dorm parent, couldn’t agree more. He noted the energy before and after the show was “palpable” and many went back to see the show again. “It brought me so much joy to see so many students get to join this loud, angsty and authentic thing as participants and as audience members, and make it their own.” 

That’s why Appiah keeps coming back. “I believe Great Gig is the embodiment of the clause ‘to gather,’” he shared. “To see a Great Gig production is to see Masters: its smile, its joy, its energy. Great Gig isn’t only what happens on stage — it’s also the students, parents, friends and faculty who show up and who gather in support of the efforts of performers and technicians. There is no greater legacy to leave behind than one that calls a community to truly be a community.”