Pipe Bursts in PAC, Nearly Stopping Several Performances

by Elizabeth Casolo

On December 12, energy permeated throughout the orchestra room: it was concert night. For high school musicians, concerts represent the cumulation of their efforts. Whether it be the countless hours spent preparing within the classroom and, hopefully, time spent practicing at home, students and their teachers work incessantly to not only improve their musical abilities, but to put on a phenomenal concert.

One problem: that concert almost didn’t happen.

As Mr. Piotrzowski explained in his email to the student body, “a vibration coupling on a hydronic hot water line failed.” In other words, a water pipe burst about an hour before the start of the concert, just as students were preparing and practicing a last time. Water spilled into the Performing Arts Center’s lobby and leaked onto the gym floor.

Bethany Fuscaldo, the school’s orchestra teacher and director of the program, immediately reacted with, “‘I can’t believe this is happening… again.’ We had another pipe burst in one of the dressing rooms (where at the time we were storing string instruments) back three years ago… My second reaction was, ‘Oh my god, what about our concert?!’”

As in some of the school’s other concerts, this one did not solely include orchestra students. Several band students were playing alongside the Symphony Orchestra, and a student pianist was also ready to perform with the Concert Orchestra.

“Looking at the situation myself, it looked bad,” Ms. Fuscaldo explained. According to Ms. Fuscaldo, Mr. Piotrzkowski doubted the concert would still take place.

However, with over one hundred students dressed in concert attire, she was still hopeful that the it would not be postponed.

In order for the concert to be held as scheduled, Ms. Fuscaldo had to receive clearance from the Fire Marshall. Following a brief evacuation to the front circle, orchestra students headed to the Student Center take their yearbook picture.

The orchestra concert was not the only event taking place at GHS that night. The Pajama Game’s cast and audience had to evacuate mid-performance, and an Innovation Lab parent meeting took place shortly after the fire alarms shut off.

Several other events were intended to take place at the Performing Arts Center in the coming weeks. Along with the relocation of the chorus concert, “Western Regionals will need a new home. Honor Choir and String Festival (both district-wide music events) will also need to find a new place to rehearse and perform. There’s a church that uses the PAC every Sunday… The eighth grade elective assembly scheduled for the end of January could possibly be pushed back into February,” Ms. Fuscaldo included.

With a projected six to eight weeks of repairs ahead, the pressure is on to find all of these activities and performances new sites. The school has successfully relocated the chorus concert, which took place on December 19, 2018, to the Darien High School PAC.

Well, what happened to the orchestra concert? Did it go on as planned?

“When I found out that we could have the concert, I was shocked and relieved! I was also so, so, so amazed and grateful for all of the quick help by our custodial staff and fire fighters who rushed to the scene.”

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Casolo

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