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Papadolias fund to benefit from alums’ Ballydoyle concert

Updated: May 28, 2012 8:30AM

When Bob Lisberg started phoning local musicians to ask if they’d like to donate their time and skills for a concert to benefit the Meg Papadolias Endowment for the Arts Fund, he was barely able to finish his request before hearing an enthusiastic “Yes!” from each.

“He didn’t even get to the part about the foundation,” said Tracey Sturdivant-Redding. “I just heard him say, ‘for Meg’ and I didn’t hesitate. Meg taught me so much — from breathing techniques to sharing her passion for music.” Sturdivant-Redding, who studied with Papadolias from eighth grade through her 1987 graduation from West Aurora High School, will be one of 30 former students to perform on Saturday night at Ballydoyle Irish Pub in downtown Aurora. The endowment funds projects which promote the choral and performing arts in the West Aurora School District.

“Meg was an integral part of my musical development starting in seventh grade,” said Heather Lambert (class of ’92). “I’d do anything for her, and I’m happy to sing for this occasion.”

“I came up on the band side of things, but had the opportunity to work with Meg on musicals,” said Peter Lindenmeyer (’88). He voiced the sentiments of so many with: “Meg has the voice of an angel, and she helped guide my vocal performance. She put in thousands of hours outside the classroom and influenced so many people in her career. District 129 arguably has the best musicals in the state, as well as college-quality music programs. We all want make sure that influence continues through the endowment.” Lindenmeyer plays in the band “Hoss,” which, will be backing several of the vocalists.

Bob Lisberg (’87), also a member of Hoss, told me he had been lucky enough to be a student at Freeman Elementary School, Washington Middle School, and West in the years Papadolias taught at each. When he heard the endowment fund was short of the $10,000 mark where it needed to be, he quickly created the first annual “Banding Together” event with fellow West alumni.

There is a genuine camaraderie among music alumni from West. “It’s funny how you barely notice the difference in graduation years,” said Sherry Winchester Schultz (’80). “Band was an equalizer. We didn’t think about which class others were in, we were all part of the band or part of the choir.” Schultz’s children, Jackson (’07) and Heidi (’09) also studied with Papadolias. Schultz plays with the local band Acoustic Alternatives and they will be opening Saturday’s show.

I love Acoustic Alternatives and I’m also looking forward to seeing another local favorite, Kevin Trudo and the Meathawk. Kevin may be the lone non-West graduate, but he said he was grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this unique show and for “getting the chance to share the stage with some phenomenal local talent.” The group I’m most anxious to see, though, is one I’ve never heard before. It’s called Ancora Imparo, which means “still learning.” It is a group of seven women who were members of West’s A Cappella Choirs from 1992 to 2002 plus Meg herself, who told me they plan to record a CD of winter holiday music this summer, for November release.

And if all this doesn’t already have you scrambling to for tickets, I have permission from Bob Lisberg to reveal the übercool finale: Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” for all of us here in Wayne’s World.

The music begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday and goes until 9. Admission is a $10 tax deductible donation to the endowment fund, and tickets are also available at the door.

So, if you’ve wondered what “Papo” is doing now that she’s retired, the answer is: “Still singing. Still creating beautiful music. Still enjoying the incredible magic of voices blending in song,” which is how she described Ancora Imparo’s commitment — like West’s — to lifelong learning. And Saturday night, you can share that magic with her again.

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