A Collaboration with The New England Youth Theater
In the fall of 2014, the Brattleboro Music Center (BMC) and New England Youth Theatre (NEYT) embarked on a collaborative effort to offer a Musical Theater Pit Band Program. The program supports NEYT’s musical productions with a pit band of music students conducted by an experienced theater musician and music educator.
Initially the Pit Band program supported just the winter NEYT musical production, with The Sound of Music being the first show in December of 2014. In 2016, the program expanded to include both the winter and summer musical productions. Student musicians work on parts, attend music rehearsals, often at the BMC, and then attend rehearsals and performances at NEYT.
The student’s commitment is to learn the music, attend musical rehearsals as required, and attend all required rehearsals at NEYT. Given the size restraints on the pit band size, it can be possible to rehearse as an alternate and perform, or perform only for select shows. Such decisions are at the discretion of the show’s conductor. Intermediate to advanced musicians of middle through high school age are encouraged to participate. Prospective stuents are encouraged to think carefully about the time commitment involved. It is generally comparable to that made by a lead cast member.
As an extension of the Musical Theatre module of NEYT’s Mentorship Education Program the Pit Band program expands NEYT’s mentorship offerings into the musical realm with the conductor serving as a Professional Mentor. In addition to the work of rehearsing the pit band and conducting for NEYT’s show, the Professional Mentor will work with Pit Band students, both individually and in small groups on developing the skills of ensemble playing, accompaniment techniques, stage presence, and adapting scores.
2014 Winter: The Sound of Music, Deniz Cordell, conductor
2015 Winter: The wizard of Oz, Deniz Cordell, conductor
2016 Summer: Into the Woods, Riley Goodemote, conductor
2016 Winter: Mary Poppins, Riley Goodemote, conductor
2017 Summer: Drowsy Chaperone, Riley Goodemote, conductor
2017 Winter: Tuck Everlasting, Riley Goodemote, conductor
2018 Summer: Sweet Charity, Riley Goodemote, conductor
2018 Winter: Rags the Musical, Riley Goodemote, conductor
2019 Summer: As You Like It, Riley Goodemote, conductor
2019 Winter: Matilda the Musical, Riley Goodemote, Deniz Cordell, co-conspirators
The summer of 2020 program has two components. Pit band regular Malcolm Toleno is working on a trio to provide accompaniments for the summer showcase, while Riley Goodemote returns (virtually at least) to lead a musical project open to all past, present, and future Pit Band participants. For the latter, participants will record their part(s) for a showpiece, that will then be presented online in August.