By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — Since 9 a.m. Thursday morning, some of the top student musicians from the New England states have been pouring into the the area to compete in the New England Music Festival being hosted by the school district. The festival brings together high school students from around New England under the direction of a nationally reknowned conductor, culminating in concert performances.
According to Chorus Director Denise Sanborn, about 430 musicians, including eight from Gilford, and 75 directors and/or parents will be staying in various hotel motels and as guests in local family homes through Saturday night into Sunday morning.
"I have four boys staying at my house," Sanborn said with a laugh adding that her husband will be doing all the work because she is consumed by her activities at the high school.
She said the Margate Inn and Resort is the headquarters hotel and many of the parents and music directors are staying there. She noted that though Gilford is the northernmost school in New Hampshire that participates in the festival, any student who qualifies from any school can participate and those children have brought along parent/directors.
Sanborn said that the Sutton House in Center Harbor is hosting 12 girls and Superintendent Kent Hemingway will be chaperoning them. She said the Fireside Inn in Gilford is also hosting a number of girls and the will be a local chaperone for them as well.
She said the school district employees have been reaching out to about 120 potential host families for about a year and many from Gilmanton, Belmont and Laconia volunteered to take some of the students into their homes.
"We had a year to plan this and we are so grateful for the community for stepping up and helping us," Sanborn said.
Sanborn also wanted to recognize Scott Piddington, who is the technical director for the production and who has been with the Gilford School District since the school was built.
She said he has set up all of the risers for the chorus, put the signs up outside the school and set up all of the lighting and sound board for the auditorium where the festival will be held.
"He did just everything," she said.
The students have been working on their performance pieces since qualifying for the festival and Sanborn said rehearsals begin Friday and continue into Saturday.
The choral performance will be held Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. and the orchestral and band performance will be at 4 p.m. at Gilford High School.
Tickets are available online at http://www.nemfa.org/concert_current.php but will likely sell out, so administrators are asking people to get them as early as possible. Tickets are $11 online and $15 at the door Saturday.