Bands Combine for New ‘Bulldog Rumble’

Bands Combine for New ‘Bulldog Rumble’
Westerly Band - Sat Jun 04, 2011 @ 04:24AM
Comments: 5

By NANCY BURNS-FUSARO

Sun Staff Writer

It was anything but a ho-hum tune. In fact Joe Nigrelli Sr. couldn’t get this one out of his head.

He was walking through Wilcox Park one day about 14 years ago when a tune popped into his head — a brisk tune, much like a march. “I used to walk through the park and hum all the time, “ says Nigrelli, the owner and founder of Nigrelli’s Jewelry, a 64-year-old Westerly institution.

But there was something special about that hum which turned into
a tune, which stayed in his head. When he got home, he hummed it for his son, the late David Nigrelli, who sat down at his computer and came up with a melody — along with the help of a computer program.

When Nigrelli’s
grandson Joey, who was then a senior at Westerly High School, heard the tune, he connected with some friends at Berklee School of Music who listened to the melody and wrote music for the march and “The Bulldog Rumble” was born. Later in the year, Neighbor Day originator Mary Jane Di Maio approached Ted Collins, the Westerly High School music director at the time, looking for musical recommendations for the annual community event. Collins immediately thought of Nigrelli.

“Collins told her he heard about a jeweler in town who had a march,” laughs Nigrelli, “so she approached me, the band played it on Neighbor Day and David recorded it.”

“Then when my grandson Joey graduated they played it at the graduation and it went over big,” says Nigrelli, who was a tailgunner in WWII, attached to the 315th Bomb Wing of the 20th Air Force, and played the saxophone and clarinet in the Air Force Band.

“That graduation was awesome,” says Joey, who was president of the class of 1997. “I was never more proud than to have my grandfather’s march played during my graduation.”

But somehow the score to Nigrelli’s march got lost in the shuffle and was never to be seen again. Until one day about two years ago when Roy Clark, the president of the Westerly Band was in Nigrelli’s Jewelry shop and noticed an old photo of the Westerly band and got talking to Joe Nigrelli Sr.

“Joe told me the whole story of how he was humming in the park and how the students at Berklee got involved and how it was played at his grandson’s graduation — which was such a nice touch — and how the sheet music got lost was lost,” Clark explains, “and then he told me he had a recording he wanted me to listen to.”

“And I told him, ‘I have a composer for you,’” he laughs.

That composer was Pasquale “Pat” Siravo, a Westerly resident, who composes marches in addition to playing the trumpet and baritone horn for the Westerly Band.

Siravo wrote “Bucky’s March,” as a tribute to George “Bucky” Wilde, the director of Westerly’s Columbus Band from 1973 to 1985, and he is also the author of the “Spirit of Westerly,” which he developed while marching in a summer parades.

Siravo sat down and listened to Nigrelli’s recording. “They wanted me to write down the harmonies and to add to it,” says Siravo, “so I did. I listened and I scored it.”

“It’s a little like a fight song,” says Clark, as he plays the brisk tune for a listener.

Clark says the community is invited to come and listen to the newly scored piece this month when “The Bulldog Rumble” will have its second premier on Wednesday, May 25 during a joint concert with the Westerly High School Band and the Westerly Band at Westerly High School at 7:30 p.m.

“We’ll also be playing ‘The Spirit of Westerly,’” he adds, but the “Bulldog Rumble” will be the main event.

“You know,” says Clark of the newly scored piece, “we really should be calling it the ‘Nigrelli March,’ but Joe is too modest.” 


 

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