Thursday Morning Brass, Junior Guilders of Jamestown to entertain Lenna audience

Brian Smith | Staff Photographer
Megan Clark, 16, of Clymer, N.Y., rehearses the ‘Singing in the Rain’ skit Sunday in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall. Clark and her fellow Junior Guilders of Jamestown will perform with the Thursday Morning Brass at 4 p.m. today.

At 4 p.m. today, Thursday Morning Brass and the Junior Guilders of Jamestown will perform together in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall in a program of singing and dancing.

The Junior Guilders are a group of singers and dancers ranging in age from 8 to 15, led by the group’s founder and director, Helen Merrill. They will sing with the Thursday Morning Brass, led by music director Paul Weber, in a “March of the Toys” medley, an arrangement of “Singing in the Rain” and an arrangement of “New York, New York.”

The children will also perform a blues medley with longtime accompanist Lucille Miller. The medley includes excerpts from the songs “Bye Bye Blues,” “Blue Skies” and “All That Jazz.”

Thursday Morning Brass will also perform some instrumental works, such as “Strike Up the Band,” “Vive Le Horn” and excerpts from West Side Story.

This year, both groups have new members from the same family. Jim Foley, a music teacher at Maple Grove High School in Bemus Point, N.Y., plays tuba in Thursday Morning Brass. His daughter Emma, 9, is a first-year member of the Junior Guilders.

Foley was asked to play tuba to replace Joe Prezio, who couldn’t play in the ensemble this season due to health issues. He has thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the members of the group.

“They’re great people,” Foley said. “Any time you get a chance to play with a group like that in a smaller area like this is definitely a lot of fun.”

Because of Foley’s career, his daughter has grown up watching musicals, and music is an integral part of the family’s life. When Foley heard about the Junior Guilders, he thought it would be a great program for Emma.

“She loves to dance and she loves to sing,” Foley said. “She’s doing both constantly.”

Before Emma joined the Junior Guilders, she took dance lessons at the Tiffany Wakeley Academy of Dance. She hates standing still, Foley said, and she’ll often dance around their living room. He isn’t sure if she loves dancing or singing more.

“She has said she wants to be a singer when she grows up,” Foley said, “[but] you never know … kids change their minds really quickly.”

The Foleys have four children. When it comes to their kids taking music lessons, Foley and his wife stick to a simple decree.

“They will learn piano,” Foley said, “but aside from that, I’m not forcing them to learn instruments or sing or anything like that. If they want to do it, great; if they don’t, then they don’t.”

Although Emma is interested in music, her three siblings act in school plays and compete in a variety of sports, everything from soccer and track to basketball and wrestling.

“Almost all of those things have a price tag … especially with four kids,” Foley said.

But the Junior Guilders of Jamestown don’t have a price tag; participating in the group is free. When they travel — they’ve performed at Disney World four times and even traveled to Paris one year — they rely on fundraising and donations.

Foley said that it’s a “huge deal” for his family that membership in the Junior Guilders is free. He praised the program for its dedication to making sure every child has an opportunity to enjoy music, no matter his or her financial background.

“The fact that [the Junior] Guilders is something she enjoys so much, and it’s something that she can learn so much from … and they do a ton of performances, and it’s free?” Foley said. “That is a huge, huge bonus.”