The local musical community came together on the Northport High School auditorium stage Friday night for a benefit concert featuring a Beatles tribute band to raise funds for the Northport Tour Choir’s summer trip to Spain and Portugal.
Students in the choir will perform at several churches, synagogues and public squares during their international tour.
Parents Diane and Anthony Pomes are thrilled at this opportunity for their 15-year-old twins, Miranda and Grant Schmidt, freshmen at Northport High School, to perform in Europe.
“We’re so proud of both of them. They’re two of only six freshmen in the Tour Choir,” Diane Pomes said. “It’s a very elite group. But Europe is expensive, and we knew that most other families would be worried about money too.”
Appropriately, their solution came from music. A founding member of the Beatles tribute band Mostly Moptop, Anthony Pomes enlisted the help of his bandmates -- John Tabacco, Edward Franz and Paul Michael Barkan -- and offered to host a fundraising concert at the school.
The idea received immediate support from the school and tour choir directors Ellen McCarthy and Nicholas Hart. Incorporating the students into the show was the next step.
Using Beatles music charts created by Barkan, members of the choir, who also played instruments, learned a collection of classic Beatles songs. Other student musicians, teachers and parents joined in the effort. The result was a collection of more than 100 players spanning generations performing the songs that transcend the ages.
“We usually sell cookie dough or wrapping paper to raise money,” said senior Ariana Warren, 17, co-president of the tour choir. “The concert is so much different. I’m so excited about it.”
Separated into two sets, the concert began as a traditional Mostly Moptop tribute show. The four members played classics such as “Help” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” Gradually the classical sound was incorporated into the show when the band was joined onstage by a small string section composed of students playing “Yesterday.”
The second set was a full collaboration of choral, classical and rock and roll music. Audience members reacted to each song, clapping along to a high-powered performance of “Revolution” that included students on electric guitar and listening reverently to the tour choir’s a capella version of “In My Life.”
“This concert introduces notions of orchestral music in Beatles songs to young musicians,” Anthony Pomes said.
Barkan was thrilled by how the students reacted to hearing the components of each song join together to form the well-known tunes. Beginning in college, he spent years listening to the entire Beatles collection, breaking each song down by ear into instrumental parts.
“You see the spark in their eyes when the kids start to play and they recognize the music,” he said.