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Fryeburg music director dismissed after 23 years

By Lloyd Jones and Daymond Steer

10-10-brent-lacasce-firedAfter 23 years at Fryeburg Academy, Fine Arts chairman and music director Brent LaCasce was dismissed by the school on Oct. 1. (FILE PHOTO)FRYEBURG — C. Brent LaCasce, who has been the face of the music department at Fryeburg Academy for over two decades, has been dismissed from the school.

LaCasce, a 1978 alumni of the academy, who most recently served as the fine arts chair at the school and was its music director, was dismissed on Oct. 1, according to Head of School Erin Mayo.

Mayo called it "a personnel matter," Thursday afternoon by phone and therefore could not comment on what led to LaCasce's dismissal. He had worked at the school for 23 years.

"Brent doesn't work here anymore," Mayo said. "His employment ended October 1. I really am not at liberty to say anything beyond that."

LaCasce could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Parents and students in the music program were notified of the change within the music department and were invited to a meeting the evening of Oct. 2, Mayo said.

Brownfield-Denmark Elementary School principal Mark Schrader, who has three sons involved in the music program at the academy, praised Mayo for her professionalism and care for the students.

She handled it (LaCase's departure) "professionally" and with "sensitivity," Schrader said and added, she was very supportive of the music program. She let people know she was there to help them.

Mayo said the academy is advertising for a choral teacher, but the music program will continue to thrive with Michael Sakash taking over as music director.

"We have internally sought interest to see if anyone is interested in the fine art chair position," Mayo said. "We will carry on as usual until we get a second person on staff. We are deeply committed to our outstanding music program and incredibly proud of our young musicians."

The Raiders will head to the All State Jazz competition on Friday as planned.

Mayo said all of the auditions for the fall musical have been completed.

LaCasce received the academy's highest honor in 2011 when he was inducted into the second class to be enshrined into Fryeburg Academy's Hall of Excellence.

A writeup for LaCase at that time stated, "Brent LaCasce can easily be referred to as 'Mr. Fryeburg Academy.' He was a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball and track. His three letters in track included an MAIS championship in the relay, a conference title in 1978 and a prep championship in 1977. He coached track and basketball at Fryeburg and is currently the fine arts chair at the academy. More recently, he has turned out a bevy of state champion choral and jazz groups that has given the school state and national recognition."

Also inducted that same year was LaCasce's relative Elroy LaCasce, who was headmaster at Fryeburg Academy from 1922 to 1955. He then became a trustee in 1955.

Under LaCasce's direction, the Raiders received statewide attention for their music program. Fryeburg's Vocal Jazz Ensemble won its seventh straight Division One title. The Raiders were also the 2009 Division I State Champions — Birth of the Cool Combo; 2009 Division II 2009 State Champions — FA Big Band; 2009 Multi-Combo Division Champions — Seven Steps Combo; and 2009 Vocal Jazz Division — second place — 2009 Eklektic Jazz Choir.

LaCasce, while no longer listed on the faculty at Fryeburg Academy, is listed on staff at the University of Southern Maine's School of Music as being in the artist faculty in vocal jazz, a position he has held for the past two years.

He could not be reached at the school Thursday afternoon. A receptionist at USM said "he only works certain days a week."

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