Fitchburg musician Jacqueline Burns brought her soulful sound to Blueprint New American Bar & Grill in Westminster on April 20, where the talented songstress works part time in between performing. She has several gigs coming up including May 6 at Wachusett Brewing Company in Westminster, The Tavern on Central in Ashburnham on May 12, May 19 at The Boulder Cafe in her hometown, and back at Blueprint on May 25, to name a few. For more information follow Jacqueline Burns Music on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Historical Piano Concerts kicks off 37th Spring Season
ASHBURNHAM — Celebrate spring and the music from historical pianos, as E. Michael and Patricia Frederick welcome the community to their Historical Piano Concert Series, kicking off its 37th Spring Season.
The concerts will be held each Sunday at 3 p.m., April 23 through May 28, in the New Dawn Arts Center / Ashburnham Community Church, 84 Main St.
The first concert will feature pianist Constantine Finehouse playing on the Streicher piano, made in 1846, in Vienna, Austria. The program will be music by Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart and Chopin.
Remaining concerts of the spring season will include music by Chopin: Ignacy Gaydamovich, cello, with Mohamed Shams, piano on April 30; music by Bach, Mozart and Chopin: Chaojun Yang, piano solo on May 7; music by Schubert: Lieder with words by Goethe, and piano solo pieces; Thomas Meglioranza, baritone, Reiko Uchida, piano on May 14; French violin – piano sonatas: Nadya Meykson, violin, Hwaen Ch’uqi, piano on May 21; and Jessica Gould, soprano, Kostja Kostic, clarinet, and Gail Olszewski, piano on May 28.
The Frederick Collection, featuring over 25 original European grand pianos, made circa 1790 to 1928, belongs to E. Michael Frederick and his wife, Patricia, of Ashburnham.
The couple began the collection in 1975, after realizing how perfectly music of the 1820s and ‘30s was served by a ca.1830 piano they had acquired.
In the 1970s and ‘80s, older European grand pianos were seriously undervalued as musical instruments. The Fredericks identified “finders” in Europe who could arrange for purchase and shipping of potentially fine old pianos, at affordable prices. A dozen pianos in the collection were already in this country, including one added last August, and another, last week.
Michael Frederick, who had built harpsichords from museum plans (not from kits) as a Harvard college history major, researched the best materials and methods for making long-neglected pianos sound as exciting and beautiful as when they were new.
Moving to Ashburnham in 1984, with a broad range of pianos Michael Frederick had restored, the Fredericks began inviting pianists to explore the musical possibilities the pianos offered. Eager to share their musical discoveries with the public, the pianists urged the Fredericks to present concerts.
Since the first concert in October of 1985, the fall and spring series at Ashburnham Community Church has grown to a dozen concerts a year, with a waiting list of musicians asking to play.
As Patricia Frederick explained, “from the 1950s, musicians on world tour by jet plane may stay in each city only a day, unlike musicians in the past, who might settle in for a whole season. While violinists or flutists can carry their own instruments with them, pianists must play whatever piano is onstage, the world over. Lacking time to become familiar with a wide range of pianos, pianists demanded worldwide standardization, and bigger, louder pianos to compete with larger orchestras in bigger halls. The result was the loss of a variety of musical sounds once treasured by composers, musicians, and audiences – a loss one pianist called ‘The McDonaldization of everything’.”
Each concert is open to the public; tickets are $15 per adult, students and children admitted free. The concerts, played without intermission, are recorded on video for later posting on YouTube, under “Music from the Frederick Collection”, joining videos of concerts from recent seasons.
The Fredericks have always felt an obligation to share the richly varied piano sounds the composers were writing for, that have been standardized out of the modern piano. The musicians’ excitement at being able to achieve musical effects on these pianos that are unavailable from any modern piano, is communicated to the listeners, who say it is like hearing the music in its true colors for the first time.
“My husband and I believe that the concerts’ very modest admissions fee makes them affordable to music lovers who might not otherwise be able to attend more than one per season,” said Pat Frederick. “Devoted listeners have always voluntarily helped support the concert series, a nonprofit organization, and we are thankful for them.”
The entrance, at the back of the church, is ramped; the church is handicapped-accessible. Parking is available on Chapel Street, and in the lot beside the church, entered from Main Street. Audiences can also use St. Denis Church’s parking area, across Main Street.
For further information, visit frederickcollection.org; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or by phone at 978-827-6232.
The Frederick Piano Collection is also open to the public by appointment, for tours (except on concerts days), with hands-on introductions to a dozen or more pianos.
Locals set to run Boston Marathon
When the 127th Boston Marathon kicks off on Monday, there will be a solid contingent of local runners going for a 26.2-mile jaunt toward the capital of the commonwealth.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 runners from over 100 countries will start their day in Hopkinton and end it hours later on Boylston Street, exhausted and jubilant from taking part in one of the most iconic races in the world.
For area runners, Leominster leads the pack with 10 registered participants. Listed below are local athletes scheduled to lace up the sneakers and race for glory on Monday, sorted by hometown.
Ashburnham: Megan Peura, 35; Aaron Santos, 36; WIlliam Troy, 60; Thomas Wironen, 39.
Ashby: Carolyn Mains, 43.
Ayer: Emily Asher, 38; Jason Bui, 42; Tim Dumas, 55; Patrick Sinclair, 40; Julie Tevenan, 28.
Fitchburg: Alyne Butland, 41; Gary Campbell, 69; Tim Hong, 55; Karm Tousignant, 49.
Lancaster: Kenneth Frommer, 49; Beau Lirette, 30.
Leominster: Kati Cage, 34; Brian Downey, 43; David Harper, 56; Melissa Hendry, 41; Cassandra Leal, 36; Christine Pelletier, 42; Vicki Saengkheune, 34; Thomas Stracqualursi, 48; Brett Van Dorn, 31; Joshua Williams, 40.
Lunenburg: Daria Cunningham, 46; Michael Gamache, 33; Scott Kirouac, 36; Jenn Miola, 48; Paul Vella, 46.
Shirley: Daniel Beard, 39; Katherine Bukis, 30; Britnii Dyer, 31; Chelsie McCarthy, 36.
Townsend: Brian Crane, 58.
Westminster: Michael Conti, 46; Sarah Phillips, 38; Jessica Popik, 36.
Fitchburg high educator turned fairy godmother organizes Princess Boutique
FITCHBURG — The beaming smile on longtime educator Aury Rivera’s face was even more dazzling than the gorgeous dresses and accessories on display at the Princess Boutique she set up for the high school students.
Her classroom, room 311 at Fitchburg High School, was packed with students, staff, teachers, and parents on Thursday afternoon for the event hosted by the Latin American Club. Hundreds of donated prom dresses in a variety of vibrant colors, styles, lengths, fabrics — one dreamy gown after another — hung up all around the space were up for grabs along with shoes, accessories, raffle prizes and more.
“Welcome to our boutique, you see something you like, try it on,” Rivera said while welcoming the crowd that poured into her classroom right when she opened what she officially dubbed the Red Raiders Princess Boutique promptly at 2 p.m.
This is Rivera’s first year doing the boutique as a way to offer students who otherwise may not be able to afford it a prom dress and all the fixings. The inspiration behind being a fairy godmother of sorts comes from a very personal place — she never went to prom herself because of the cost.
“I couldn’t afford it,” she said. “I want to try to help as much as possible so they can enjoy their special night with their classmates and friends.”
Rivera moved to the U.S. from Puerto Rico in 1996 and graduated from FHS two years later. She lived in the city for 22 years before moving to Winchendon five years ago with her husband and their two children.
The dedicated wife and mom helps out at their bustling family business, Thumbs Up Barber Shop on John Fitch Highway, where their daughter also lends a hand and their entrepreneurial teenage son has his own thing going, Thumbs Up Kicks.
Rivera wears many hats at FHS, where she has worked in various positions since 2003. Currently she is the World Language Spanish Teacher, World Language Department Facilitator, 2025 Class Advisor, and Latin American Club Advisor.
Three years ago, she started collecting prom dresses in her small classroom closet after realizing some of the students couldn’t afford them “and sending girls to prom.” This year one of her former students Amanda Barnett, who owns Mnandi Salon & Spa in Leominster, called Rivera saying she wanted to donate dresses.
“I immediately knew we needed to do something bigger,” Rivera said. “I decided to do a boutique and open it up to the entire school.”
She said “the amount of support was incredible” and that the large-scale endeavor came together through a lot of teamwork, not only from Barnett who along with dresses donated a gift certificate for hair and makeup, but also other local businesses including Thumbs Up who donated haircuts, Leominster’s SIN Nail Studio who offered manicures and pedicures, two tuxedo rentals from Men’s Wearhouse in Leominster, and a tuxedo and dress rental from Anne’s Bridal & Tux in Gardner.
Rivera was visibly moved as she scanned the room filled with energetic teens and she teared up talking about the students she so obviously cares for and wants to help. She smiled as she helped them pack up the goods they picked out into reusable shopping bags to take home and urged them to enjoy the refreshments and snacks laid out on a table.
There were skincare samples courtesy of a Mary Kay representative, new jewelry donated by the school secretaries and a number of raffle prizes including prom tickets. There were also gift certificates for manicures and pedicures, hair styling, and eight $60 cash prizes courtesy of monetary donations from teachers and the school custodians.
“This dream came true,” Rivera said of the outcome that was born from the community collaboration.
She posed for a picture between two gentlemen, seniors Iniel Melendez Colon and Jarbin Diego Martinez, who each won a tux rental from Men’s Warehouse, and one young lady was overheard gushing over a pair of shoes “Oooo these are pretty!”
Friends Nicole Beltran, a freshman, and sophomore Keirianys Pagan stood side by side in glamorous floor length dresses and held a sign that read “I said yes to the dress” as they happily posed for photos.
There were nearly 250 beautiful dresses to choose from, 50 of which came from Oakmont Regional High School in Ashburnham via a connection through FHS teacher Kristen Canterbury. Beaded ones and ones with sequins, wispy tulle and rich taffeta in any color and hue imaginable.
And then there were the extras — dozens of shoes, purses and clutches, jewelry and sparkling accessories and bling of all different kinds, perfume samples, and even a pair of white satin gloves that were snatched up.
FHS paraprofessional Kathy Melanson said when she heard what Rivera was up to, she immediately volunteered to help.
“I think it’s a great cause,” Melanson imparted while helping students who were perusing the jewelry table, adding that she received a donated dress for her own junior prom and only had to pay for alterations. “I remember that this many years later, that’s how much it meant to me.”
One young woman picked out a sparkly accessory, saying she already had a dress at home but “didn’t know what accessories would go with it,” and another young lady came up to Rivera with a headpiece in her hand and asked if she could take it.
“Of course, it’s all yours I’m glad you found something!” Rivera said with a smile and the student grinned and made a point to say thank you again on her way out.
There was a lot of anticipation in the weeks leading up to the boutique from the students.
“They were so excited,” Rivera disclosed. “Every day they would come to my room to see how many dresses we have. They started a countdown and it was pretty exciting to see our numbers grow. Final count 246 dresses.”
Rivera was happy to provide the opportunity for students who are attending the May 13 prom to shop for a new to them gown and other items, “a nice treat in a casual boutique atmosphere,” and even invited parents to come by “to see what they can get.”
“I enjoy seeing their smiles,” she said. “It is truly rewarding seeing them the day of prom with a huge smile taking pictures, dancing the night away, and knowing we were part of this.”
Ashburnham native named to Navy Ceremonial Guard
MILLINGTON, Tenn. – A native of Ashburnham, Massachusetts, recently completed an intensive 10-week training program to become a member of the elite U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard.
Constructionman Luke St. Pierre, a 2021 Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School graduate, joined the Navy six months ago. Today, St. Pierre serves as a U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guardsman.
“I joined the Navy because both my father and grandfather were prior service members,” St. Pierre said.
Established in 1931, the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard is the official honor guard of the U.S. Navy and is based at Naval District Washington Anacostia Annex in Washington, D.C.
According to Navy officials, the primary mission of the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard is to represent the service in Presidential, Joint Armed Forces, Navy and public ceremonies in and around the nation’s capital. Members of the Navy Ceremonial Guard participate in some of our nation’s most prestigious ceremonies, including Presidential inaugurations and arrival ceremonies for foreign officials.
“I have learned most to put in maximum effort in order to get the best results possible in all you do in life,” St. Pierre said.
Sailors of the Ceremonial Guard are hand selected while they are attending boot camp at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois. Strict military order and discipline, combined with teamwork, allow the Ceremonial Guard to fulfill their responsibilities with pride and determination. They are experts in the art of close order drill, coordination and timing.
The Ceremonial Guard is comprised of the drill team, color guard, casket bearers and firing party.
“What I like most, is how small the command,” St. Pierre said. “It’s intimate in regards to learning and knowing who I’m working with. Also, because it’s a smaller command, you can’t put in minimal effort and expect to succeed.”
There are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers.
“I am most proud of getting through training and getting better at time management, along with being help to others,” St. Pierre said.
As a member of the U.S. Navy, St. Pierre, as well as other sailors, know they are part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.
“I enjoy serving in the Navy because I will exceed all expectations and serve my country,” added St. Pierre. “I have a great mindset of what the Navy can mold my future to be.”
Twin Cities venues support local musicians
FITCHBURG — Twin Cities musicians Dan Cormier and Amanda Cote recently played at two venues in the city that are committed to supporting the bustling local music scene.
The seasoned performers shared their gift of music last Friday night, a typical evening and weekend activity for the hardworking musicians. Cormier, a lifelong Fitchburg resident, headlined at the Marconi Club on Birch Street Passway while fellow city inhabitant Cote was at The Boulder Cafe on Main Street.
“I love the Marconi because it’s always fun, and people listen,” Cormier said of what he enjoys about playing at the hometown venue. “It feels like I’m a teenager again and my mom is about to click the basement light to turn down the volume, it has that vibe.”
He went on to say that besides the usual great crowd and energy there, he also appreciates that the Marconi promotes upcoming shows such as his on social media to help get the word out as well as “pays us well and [they] take care of us.”
“There are establishments that do zero promotion, which is totally disrespectful to anyone performing and not worth my time,” he shared.
Cormier caught the music bug at an early age. He started performing live in 1996 at age 14 and “playing out at bars” and other spots at 16.
Like so many musicians, he works a full-time job on top of his gigs. Cormier has been part of the crew at Roots Natural Foods in Leominster for 16 years and said his wife Nicky and their two kids are very supportive of his musical endeavors.
While he is mainly a keyboardist and vocalist with New Pond Fondle, a Fitchburg-based band he has been with since 1998, Cormier said he has “become more of a guitar player of late.” He started playing solo guitar and singing gigs back in 2008 and enjoys that aspect of his music.
Fans can follow Dan Cormier Music on Facebook and Instagram for info and show dates. He has several gigs coming up, including Hollis Hills Farm from 9 a.m. to noon on March 18 and The Cellar on March 24, both in Fitchburg, and The Tavern on Central in Ashburnham on March 25. In addition, New Pond Fondle has shows on May 13 and Sept. 30 at The Cellar and their annual show at Hollis Hills on Oct. 7, which Cormier said is “the best night in Fitchburg.”
Cote moved from Leominster to Fitchburg in January. She has lived in the area on and off for a dozen years or so and has “been playing music out for about that same period of time.”
Music was her main occupation until a year ago, when she took on a full-time job in Shirley — but her fire as a musician has not dimmed as a result. Cote has numerous upcoming music gigs, including on March 23 at The GazBar Sports Grill in Leominster and the Marconi on April 28, and people can follow her Facebook page for more info.
Her distinctive gravelly voice reminiscent of Janis Joplin pairs well with her set list which includes covers of songs by Alanis Morissette, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young, Oasis and her “fave,” Jason Isbell. She said she also appreciates the effort places such as The Boulder and Marconi put into promoting the musicians they showcase.
“Some local venues take such pride in and work so hard for the local scene, and that enthusiasm is contagious to others in the community,” Cote conveyed. “It’s a fantastic thing to see and be a part of.”
The Boulder is currently offering an old-fashioned cocktail with maple syrup from Hollis Hills Farm, the perfect collaboration in sync with sugaring season at the Fitchburg farm that will be celebrating Mass Maple Weekend on March 18 and 19.