State Senator Tries His Hand At Music Saturday

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State Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk and Darien) will conduct the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra for a song at its Holiday Extravaganza Saturday. Photo Credit: File

NORWALK, Conn. – State Sen. Bob Duff will cross an item from his “bucket list” this weekend when he steps in front of the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra as a guest conductor during its annual holiday concert.

“I've always had this strong desire to do it,” Duff said via email. “I've never conducted in a concert setting before, so I may be like a bathtub singer - better when no one is watching or listening.”

Duff will conduct the orchestra in a rendition of “Jingle Bells” at the Holiday Extravaganza on Saturday at the Norwalk Concert Hall. The show will also feature the Men's Choir of Pivot Ministries singing gospel favorites and a performance of portions of Handel’s “Messiah.”

The state senator’s music training goes back to when he was in third grade, growing up in Norwalk. He studied violin and trumpet while going through the school system. Duff later became a member of the Norwalk High concert and marching bands, where he got his first taste of conducting as a drum major. He continued his love of music at college, studying piano and conducting for a semester each.

Duff plans to take a reminder of his time in Norwalk’s schools with him Saturday. Before leaving Nathan Hale Middle School, his orchestra teacher Barbara DiFranco gave him with an old baton, which he plans to use Saturday.

If all goes well, Duff says his “ultimate goal” would be to conduct something grander. In particular, he remembers enjoying conducting pieces such as the operetta “Candide” or the “Mars” and “Jupiter” movements from the Gustav Holt’s “The Planets” in his school days. 

“For now, I'm happy with Jingle Bells,” he says.

The Norwalk Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Extravaganza starts at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Concert Hall in Norwalk City Hall at 125 East Ave. 

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Comments (5)

Ken P Jr:

Our politicians aren't much more than entertainers these days. The schools are fine & we don't need more people who think like these guys do. They're killing the state and people still support them.

Broad River:

About HALF of Norwalk’s schools are reaching their goals, but recent “report cards” issued by the state show that some schools are Falling Short of their targets and showing achievement gaps.

Each school and district is then given one of six classifications: Excelling, Progressing, Transitioning, Review, Focus, or Turnaround.

The state’s goal is for all schools to have an SPI of 88 or higher, but the annual reports assign each district a goal score that would mark an improvement over the previous year. The state’s report says that More Than Half the schools in the State reached their target scores for the 2012-13 school year.

In Norwalk, ALL of the city’s schools were marked as either “Progressing” or “Transitioning.” But ONLY THREE reached the higher “Progressing” mark: Cranbury Elementary, Jefferson Magnet and Ponus Ridge Middle School.

The district also reached its target SPI overall. Nine of the 18 schools assigned targets in Norwalk reached their goal according to the state: Cranbury, Jefferson Magnet, Rowayton, Marvin and Wolfpit Elementaries; Ponus Ridge, West Rocks and Roton middle schools, and Brien McMahon High School.

Brookside, Columbus Magnet, Kendall, Tracey, Fox Run, Naramake and Silvermine schools, Nathan Hale Middle School and Norwalk High FELL Short of their Target scores. Briggs High School had a sample size too small to be assigned a target, according to the state.

The results also note that many of Norwalk’s schools are still struggling with achievement gaps. A total of 11 schools showed gaps for some groups in some areas, according to the state’s reports.

For example, English language learners were Behind their peers in EVERY subject overall in the Connecticut Mastery Tests (for grades 3 to 8) and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (for high school students). Students with disabilities and those that qualify for free or reduced lunch also Fell Short of their targets in CAPT scores, according to the state report.

I guess the ' schools are fine ' if you're going to cut grass for a living.


Duff take a walk.

Broad River:

Another person that has a distinguished career that was educated in the Norwalk School system. Bring back that level of performance for us Bob. The schools aren't doing that well, not that well at all.


who cares? another photo-op for his ego

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