Retiring JTHS Director of Bands Caps 17-Year Tenure at Final Concert
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The energy was palpable and the excitement contagious upon entering Jefferson Township High School’s band room on May 30. This was not going to be just another spring concert. It was going to be a beloved teacher’s final lift of baton in the Falcon auditorium. Director of bands Rich Barrieres – affectionately titled Mr. B by his students – would be retiring at the school year’s end, following a 17-year tenure in the music department.
The room reverberated with the discordant sounds of young musicians “tuning up,” laughter, and an abundance of chatter. Scattered among the students were enough alumni to constitute a small band of their own. These Jefferson grads of varying ages had come to accompany Mr. B in his grand finale.
As the band director moved among the crowd and reached the center of the room, the noise became a low hum. And when Mr. B lifted his arms to conduct a final scale review with each instrument section, there was rapt attention by students and alumni alike. This was to be no ordinary performance. And it wasn’t.
Titled “Band Together,” the evening included separate performances by the jazz band, wind ensemble, and full symphonic band. Brianna Drwiega played a piano solo. The alumni joined the symphonic band to round out the concert by performing two selections.
Following the introduction of graduating seniors by Mr. B, who presented each with a specially engraved coffee mug, band members had a few surprises for the maestro. Expressing sincere gratitude and with obvious warmth, students presented their teacher and mentor with a scrapbook of memories highlighting his years at the high school.
The pièces de résistance, however, were T-shirts – one each for Mr. B and his wife, Merry – emblazoned with the name of the director’s favorite rock group, the heavy metal band Mastodon. The shirts came with two tickets to a Mastodon concert.
As if not wanting the evening to end, alumni, students, and parents lingered at a reception following the concert.
In a message to his students, Mr. B wrote: “It has truly been my honor to work with you. I will hold the memories close to my heart and will use what I’ve learned from you as I continue to share the gift of music. Thank you!”
No doubt, Mr. B’s students believe he is the one who deserves most of the thanks.