The End of a Musical Era

March 31, 2017


submitted by Laurie Jasper

Alvirne High School’s 20th Annual Cabaret – A Retrospective celebrated the past themes with a musical walk down memory lane.  For two shows on March 25 and one show on March 26, and for nearly three and a half hours, the sold-out gymnasium-turned harmonious hotspot transported the lucky audience members through the 1970s, Hollywood, Mardi Gras, Las Vegas and more.

From the moment Hudson School District’s Music Director Gerry Bastien “flew” in zip-line style, the audience knew it was in for a special treat.  Each year, for 20 years, the feeling has been, “How will they possibly top that performance?”  And, every year, Bastien, his dedicated volunteers and the talented students do just that.  However, this year also marked the end of a musical era, as Bastien will retire at the conclusion of the 2017 school year.

Bastien began teaching at Alvirne in 1996.  In 1998, to help raise funds to bring the students to competitions, the very first Cabaret was held.  In honor of that, audience members at the Sunday show joined in a special toast with vintage 1998 “bubbly juice” that was on each table before the start of the show.  Bastien also acknowledged his mother, who was in attendance for the special event.

Emcee Joe Kasper, who has been the voice of Cabaret for all 20 years, recalled that the first production took place on the stage, with a lot of rearranging and movement throughout the show.

This year, in addition to the main stage where the Concert Band performed, there were three other locations where the Jazz Band, Symphonic Band and the vocal groups performed.  Choral Director Mike Gallagan conducted the Treble Choir, Alvirne Singers and B Naturals during their performances, located opposite the stage at the back of the venue, on risers.  Not only did these talented vocalists sing, they managed to include some dance moves, despite the tight quarters!

As intermission came to an end on Sunday, but before the show resumed, an emotional Bastien took a few moments to recognize a group of people who have been with him from the beginning, but not before thanking his wife of 34 years, Dee.  “She’s been with me the whole time.  This is my life; this is her life!  She’s the brains behind me,” said Bastien.  He explained that his wife would come to school after she got out of work and do whatever needed to be done to help him.

Next, Bastien thanked his core group.  Their children were at one time part of the music program and graduated, but the parents remained, working on decorations, lighting, sound system.  “This is my last one, and they have been with me the whole ride,” Bastien said.

“I’d say I want to do this, and they’d say okay.  They made it happen,” said Bastien.  Don and Deb Ouellette, Chris and Nancy Landry, Neil and Linda Philcrantz, Bob and Mimi Guessferd, Russ and Debbie Magnuson, Rory and Diane McDonald and Joe Kasper were honored for their dedication.

Gerry Bastien also thanked Choral Director Mike Gallagan.  “Michael Gallagan will keep Alvirne music on the map; please support him as much as you have supported me.  He is phenomenal,” said Bastien.

The many students, past and present, who have benefitted from the Gerry Bastien legacy know his motto: “Choose to.  Want to.  Love to.”  They learned by example these past 22 years.