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Park Theater Foundation Brings Music & Technology Program to Lake George High

Park Theater Foundation Brings Music & Technology Program to Lake George High November 17, 2023
Photo of band on stage with soundboard in the foreground.
Photo courtesy Park Theater Foundation

Bolstering Lake George High School’s inter-disciplinary curriculum, a Music & Technology program was introduced to the high school in November, courtesy of The Park Theater Foundation.

According to Chris Ristau, the executive director of the Glens Falls-based not-for-profit organization, the program includes sessions on music, technology and the synergistic relationship between the two.

Most of the program will be conducted at the Lake George school, where a state-of-the art sound system has been installed in the auditorium and students have access to recording and editing technology.

“It’s a very tech-oriented program,” said Ristau. “Students will learn the basics of audio engineering and then apply those lessons to a real world situation, such as a concert or assembly of their peers, where they’ll have an opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve learned.”

In time, other aspects of producing live shows, such as lighting design, will be incorporated into the program, said Ristau, a graduate of the Lake George Jr – Sr High School who grew up on Pilot Knob.

“Education is central to the Park Theater Foundation’s mission, and our goal in Lake George is to provide students with foundational skills that will enable them to produce shows, working from both the performance and tech sides,” said Ristau,

As Ristau explains it, the Music and Technology program has been envisioned as a vehicle that, once fully built out, would help students explore the many possibilities inherent in a career in the performing arts, in addition to or apart from performing itself. Among them: theatrical tech, logistics, business, non-profit administration, education.

“These are career paths that are rarely offered to artistically-inclined students interested in alternatives to the uncertain life of a performer,” said Ristau.

Ristau noted that without the guidance of Greg Mason, the band director at Lake George during his time there, or Jonathan Newell and Nick Buttino, who team-taught a course in music and business at SUNY Adirondack, he is unlikely to have found his way into arts administration.

The Park Street Foundation’s Music and Technology Program for Lake George was funded with assistance from the Charles R. Wood Foundation.

Ristau said the Park Theater Foundation was grateful to the Charles R. Wood Foundation for its financial support, and to the administration of the Lake George High School for its help in establishing the program.

“Superintendent John Luthinger and High School Principal Fran Cocozza welcomed us with open arms and said they would offer the music department whatever resources it needed to implement the program,” said Ristau. “They are truly interested in creating new opportunities and a diversity of offerings for the student body.”

One of the Park Theater’s regularly scheduled “Third Thursday Jazz” evenings will include a discussion of the foundation’s educational programing, some of which the public may be unfamiliar with, said Ristau.

Lake George students, parents and faculty will be invited to attend the event at no cost, he added.

According to Ristau, the Music & Technology program is the foundation’s latest effort to support arts education.

In addition to this program, which it introduced to Glens Falls students last year, the Park Theater Foundation presents free concerts in Crandall Park.

The summer concerts are representative of the variety of programs presented at the Park Theater throughout its season, which range from jazz to roots and world music to tribute acts and locally-grown bands and performers.

“Those programs are a large part of our mission: to bring, affordable, high-quality entertainment to the community,” said Ristau.

The Music & Technology programs at the Glens Falls and Lake George High Schools “are just the very beginning of what we hope will become a regular, robust offering that expands to local school districts throughout the region,” said Ristau.

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