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Teacher honored for service at 65th annual music festival

Montgomery County Music Association President Pete DiBiase is retiring from Fort Plain this year, capping 25 years of service to the association, its beloved festival and the school district he’s called home for 32 years. 

band director is seated on stage in school auditorium while student musicians hold instruments behind him.
Pete DiBiase, Fort Plain’s band director, was honored at the Feb. 29 Montgomery County Music Festival in Canajoharie. DiBiase, who is retiring this year, was honored for serving as president of the county Music Association for the past 25 years. With DiBiase in the back row from the left are music festival performers Evan Crouse, Sarah Paradiso, Anthony Paradiso, Troy Butler, Taylor Gifford and Seth Wintermute. In the front row are Willow MaGinnis, Jenna Reese, Michaela Stockwell, Rachel Zuppardi and Grace Hoffman.

For the past 65 years, the Montgomery County Music Festival has celebrated the talented student musicians from school districts in Fort Plain, Canajoharie, Fonda-Fultonville and Amsterdam.

At this year’s event on Feb. 29 in Canajoharie, it was also time to celebrate outgoing Montgomery County Music Association President Pete DiBiase. He is retiring from Fort Plain this year, capping 25 years of service to the association, its beloved festival and the school district he’s called home for 32 years. 

The nod to DiBiase was a surprise coordinated by counterpart band directors at the county’s school districts. As the audience was welcomed during the opening speech, the festival was paused to honor DiBiase with a plaque.

When asked to reflect on the experience, DiBiase humbly referred to his students and their performances.

“It was memorable,” he said. “It was a great day of music and a great day of kids.”

It couldn’t have been a more fitting time to honor DiBiase, as March is Music in our Schools Month.

Music in Our Schools Month is annually held in March to raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children, and to remind citizens that school is where children should have access to music. It was established by The National Association for Music Education.

The Montgomery County Music Festival is an ultimate celebration of music in schools, preceded by months of preparation. DiBiase says it’s rewarding to see the students bring the teacher-selected musical pieces to life as a  unit. But even better, all the hard work is for a good cause.

“The importance of the festival is not only the concert and the work and preparation that goes into it, but also the scholarships,” DiBiase said. The nominal admission fee to the festival supports scholarships awarded to students in the participating school districts.

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