Great Gig to Celebrate the Great David Bowie 

One of rock legend David Bowie’s greatest works, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” will take center stage this weekend at the annual Great Gig in the Sky music showcase.

The interdisciplinary live production, which recreates an album in its entirety, brings together vocalists and instrumentalists from Jazz Band, Contemporary Ensemble, The 1877: Band Edition, Positive Rhythm and 49 Clinton, along with a team of technicians who work on lighting and production design. 

According to Gilles Pugatch, upper school music teacher and Great Gig director, the audience can expect “80 students giving it their all” as they recreate the iconic concept album based on Bowie’s groundbreaking, androgynous stage persona Ziggy Stardust. 

Vocalist Sienna Morin ’25 found exploring Bowie’s music challenging. “I had to step out of my comfort zone while also trying to make the songs my own,” she noted. “It's exciting to do something different.”

Upper school music teacher Sam Appiah ’12, who performed in the first Great Gig in 2012, has been working closely with the musicians. “This album has been pretty easy to learn, and we’ve been able to challenge the students with taking more agency over their preparation,” he said. “Some of the songs call for a wider orchestration so it’s been amazing getting horn and string players involved in the production in a very meaningful way.”

Seven eighth graders (the “8th Greaters”) will perform “It Ain’t Easy,” under the direction of John-Alec Raubeson, middle school music teacher. The middle school band includes: Rex Wallach on drums, Dallas Banks on bass, Xingya Wang on guitar, Knox Gary on guitar, Derin Barkin on keyboards and Brielle Broomes and Luka Pugatch on vocals. 

“They will be joined by three former middle school guitar players: Jackson Schuchard ’26, Thomas McCallum ’26 and John Thorn ’26, who have generously devoted their time to work with the 8th Greaters and play three-part guitar harmony on the song,” said Raubeson. “It sounds like the record and they’re killing it!”

Senior Camilo Bitar-Racedo ’24, lead vocalist on “Starman” and “Lady Stardust,” reflected on what will be his final Great Gig. “I have honestly enjoyed the ability to sing and perform with both friends and people I haven't worked with in the past,” he said. “A sense of community is always in one way or another rooted in performances at Masters.”

“Working with this group of students has been delightful,” Appiah shared. “They’ve shown their adeptness and ingenuity in coming up with vocal arrangement ideas, commitment and discipline with self-facilitated rehearsals and amazing support for one another.”

This marks year 12 of Great Gig. Said Pugatch, one of the production’s co-founders, “I'm thrilled that Masters has embraced Great Gig and supported it all these years. We're so fortunate to be able to do it year after year.”

Rock out to the Great Gig performances of “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” on Friday, April 19, and Saturday, April 20, both at 7:00 p.m., in the Claudia Boettcher Theatre. 

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