By: Nick Amodio
Shenendehowa High School East orchestra director Mr. Joseph Gumpper will spend another year conducting the Shenendehowa Musical Company’s Pit Orchestra during this year’s productions of the musical “Brigadoon.”
Gumpper has conducted many pit orchestras, most at the middle school level, which included productions of “Oklahoma,” “Guys n Dolls,” “Once Upon a Mattress,” and “Pirates of Penzance.” For these musicals he had to compose individual parts for string instruments, derived from a piano score.
“I’m extremely excited for conducting the pit orchestra this year, I love doing it,” Gumpper said.
Along with having to write out his own scores, Gumpper has to spend hours studying music in order get extremely familiar with the musical itself. He expects the student musicians to put in this type of time and effort while practicing their parts, so they can follow the actors and singers exactly.
Mr. Gumpper began teaching at Shenendehowa 22 years ago, after he received his degree in musical education and orchestral composition from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.
Other than teaching at Shen, Mr. Gumpper has played violin in many groups such as the Glens Falls Symphony and “Rusticator,” an Americana/Folk group.
A colleague of Gumpper, Mrs. Elizabeth Mars, who has worked with him ever since she started at Shen, said Gumpper is qualified to direct the pit orchestra this year. Mars, a graduate of Ithaca and Yale, will be working with Gumpper as she helps direct the musical with Ms. Heather Baird.
“He is an amazing orchestra teacher for any caliber of student, and he is more than qualified to direct the pit orchestra” Mars said .
Lauren Vandergriff, a senior french horn player in wind ensemble and the pit orchestra, said she enjoyed working with Gumpper in the pit orchestra.
“I love pit orchestra, it’s a lot of fun,” she said. “I like Mr. Gumpper a lot, he’s really funny and definitely qualified to direct pit.”
With the musical “Brigadoon” coming this March, Mr. Gumpper and his pit orchestra will be diligently preparing for the show.