The percussion section provided sounds of horse hooves, sleigh bells and the occasional crack of the whip
at the Liberty High School Honors Band noontime concert at the Government Center in Monticello on Monday.

Not a creature was stirring…

Well, that’s not entirely true. With mice in the basement and squirrels in the attic, there’s plenty of “stirring” at this time of year. The never-ending battle rages on. While searching for wrapping paper in the garage over the weekend, I discovered several mice (where there’s two, there’s 12) scurrying to and fro with Dharma in tow, barking all the way. Anxious to keep disease-ridden vermin out of the pantry, I encourage all rodents to leave on their own accord, but if it becomes necessary, let’s just say that I’ll call in the big guns.

That said, I scribbled “natural pest deterrents” on my to-do list and headed out the door in search of holiday cheer. As I steered toward Steve’s Music Center in Rock Hill, NY, I marveled at how festive the town looked, including the statues of metal musicians rockin’ out in the park, wearing holiday wreaths for passersby to admire. They were created by Sullivan County artist Zac Shavrick, according to music center proprietor Steve Schwartz. “I believe they were acquired after the town received a ‘Sullivan Renaissance Golden Feather’ award some years ago,” he added. Shavrick’s work is visible throughout the county and (IMHO) insanely creative. While I shopped the array of musical instruments lining the walls, Schwartz showed me a guitar that is not for sale, but that folks admire constantly. “It’s pretty cool, right?” he said, pointing out the wood-burned visage of Jimi Hendrix adorning the colorful instrument. As my dog scampered about barking, I asked Steve if he had a cat in the place. “I don’t think so,” came the deadpan response. “She found something,” I thought to myself. “Hope it’s not a mouse.” I grabbed the dog and headed out the door, lest she knock something over in her zeal to investigate.

After checking the traps (don’t judge!) and with music still on my mind, I decided to swing by the Government Center in Monticello on Monday, where the weeks-long series of holiday concerts was well underway. As luck would have it, I was able to catch the Liberty High School Honors Band tuning up for their salute to the season. Under the skilled guidance of band Director Daniel McConnell, roughly 25 teenage musicians opened the show with a medley of holiday favorites, including “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Joy To The World,” with strains of “I Had A Little Dreidel” thrown into the musical mix. Folks filtered out of meeting rooms and offices to listen while I joined Liberty High School Principle Derek Adams, Superintendent Augustine E. Tornatore and Assistant Superintendent Timothy Bohlke. “I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of our honors band,” Tornatore said regarding their performance, “and thank them for bringing holiday spirit to Monticello and the Government Center.”

I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, and made special note of the skilled and all-important percussion section, which added fantastic seasonal sleigh bells, horse hooves and an occasional crack of the whip to the strong horn and woodwind sections entertaining the crowd. Sullivan County Legislative Chairman Luis Alvarez presented the band with a special commendation award, telling the kids that he, too, was an alum of Liberty and that he was “filled with emotion and pride” over their performance. Spotting Sullivan County Legislator Scott Samuelson in the crowd, I snapped some pics and shook some hands, before the audience disbanded. There are still two noontime concerts on the roster, featuring the Liberty Honors Chorus on December 20 and the Roscoe Central School Band and Choir the following night. I will likely attempt to catch one, or both. And mice. I’m hoping to catch more mice.

 

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