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Students, alumni perform in musical tribute to retiring teacher

Some 50 alumni of Driver Middle School’s music program returned to the DMS stage June 9 to pay musical tribute to the man who provided the soundtrack for generations of Marcellus students' education.

Carmen Costa, who has taught music to students in grades 4 through 6 since 1978, will retire at the end of the school year after 37 years of baton-tapping. But not before some 300 Marcellus musicians – past and present – conspired to present a surprise evening of music performances in the Marcellus High School Auditorium.

Mr. Costa thought he would be attending the district's annual, end-of-year "Montage Concert." Instead, a roster of alumni performers
–  including current Board of Education member Thomas West (who graduated from Costa’s elementary band in 1980), several Marcellus teachers and numerous local professionals –  took the stage and hoisted their instruments and voices.
The concert included performances by the High School Symphonic Band (with kindergarten teacher Suzanne Alexander, a classically trained opera singer), High School Concert Band and High School Choir, Grade 7/8 Band, as well as a joint performance by the Grade 5/6 Band and alumni musicians. It concluded with a performance
of the “Marcellus March,” which Costa had commissioned for the 1993-94 Marcellus Elementary Band, by all the musicians. 

Several current students played alongside their parents and/or teachers, and guest conductors included several alumni who now teach music professionally.

The evening also featured tributes from former DMS Principal Pat Collier, former Assistant Superintendent Joanne Downes-Allan and former high school Band Director Philip Natoli. 

"Mr. Costa is a talented and gifted educator," DMS Principal Janet O'Mara said. "His passion, commitment, style and methods of teaching are truly impressive. I clearly recall walking away from my first Elementary Band concert in amazement and awe of the talent and ability of his fifth- and sixth-grade students. While I am happy for Mr. Costa on his retirement, I am sad to see him leave. Driver Middle School will not be the same without him."


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