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Gym teacher takes control of middle school musicians

Teacher turns the tables – er, channels – on young orchestra

Press photos by Chris Baldus The Charles City Middle School physical education teacher joins the 7th- and 8th-grade orchestra on stage Thursday during its performance of “Remote Control” by Richard Meyer.
Press photos by Chris Baldus
The Charles City Middle School physical education teacher joins the 7th- and 8th-grade orchestra on stage Thursday during its performance of “Remote Control” by Richard Meyer.

By Chris Baldus

cbaldus@charlescitypress.com

Who knew a physical education teacher held such sway over the 7th- and 8th-grade orchestra.

Mr. Rusty Rogotzke joined the Charles City Middle School musicians onstage at their spring concert in the school’s auditorium. He sat on a chair at the left edge of the spotlight with a TV in front of him (albeit a cardboard cutout) and a remote control (a counter bell.)

Each time he hit the remote, the orchestra switched songs from “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” to “Beethoven’s Seventh” to “Stars and Stripes Forever.” They also ventured into the Sci-Fi and Opera channels.

Rogotzke changed channels a lot, and quickly at times.

Not long into the performance, he hit mute. The orchestra, frozen in pose — including Director Nancy Western — waited as he walked backstage. He left wearing a business formal tie, collared shirt and slacks. He returned in a T-shirt and sweatpants, sat down, put his feet up and turned the orchestra back on.

And that was the orchestra’s performance of “Remote Control” by Richard Meyer.

Not to be outdone, the 7th- and 8th-grade band under the direction of Renee Boss added a twist of their own — a theremin.

The band did not actually have the actual instrument that adds creepy whooping sounds to  old science fiction and horror movies. But, it did have an iPhone app, courtesy of the Fine Arts Century Club.

Seventh-grader Cael Ruzicka played the theremin app during the song “The Haunted Carousel” by Erika Svanoe. The band also added whispers and then, for the finale, a scream.

The band also performed “Pevensey Castle” by Robert Sheldon and “Rough-Riders” by Karl L. King.

The orchestra’s lineup also included “Celtic Spring” by Tracey Ryan Rush and “The Avengers” by Alan Silvestri. Orchestra members chose “The Avengers” for this concert.

The band has one more performance next week. They will be headed to play at the Altoona amusement park Adventureland.

Boss and Western asked parents in the audience to be certain to get their young musicians signed up for summer lessons.

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