EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

June 20, 2013

Musical benefit celebrates teen's life, love of music

METHUEN — Music was a central part of Aaron Zabierek’s life. He was involved in multiple bands at Methuen High School and played “Taps” at firefighter benefits, a nod to his firefighter grandfather.

Eleven years after Aaron died in a car crash, Zabierek’s family and friends keep his memory alive with a scholarship fund for Methuen high seniors and, for the last few years, a concert at Nevins Memorial Library. On Friday, several musicians, ranging in age from 5 to 83, will perform in the What Music Means to Me Scholarship Concert beginning at 7 p.m.

Tickets for people 12 years and older are $10, with the proceeds going to the Aaron K. Zabierek Memorial Music Scholarship fund. Children younger than 12 are admitted at no charge.

“When you lose a child it’s all about preserving his memory and his life,” said Debra Zabierek, Aaron’s mother who manages the scholarship with her husband, Gary. “It helps us keep him alive in everyone’s hearts.”

The scholarship is available to two Methuen high school seniors who have been in the marching band since at least 10th grade and graduated with a GPA of at least 3.0. Hopefuls write an essay describing themselves as part of the application.

“We look for qualities that our son had,” Zabierek said. “He was a friendly kid, had time for anyone who asked for it. He gravitated towards the underdog.” Loyalty to the band and band mates ranks high as well.

Emily Toabe Antifonario, a friend of Aaron’s and onetime high school sweetheart who helped organize the concert, said the entire Zabierek family was “heavily involved in the music program.” She and others said music is an obvious way to pay tribute.

Aaron Zabierek was a member of the Ranger Marching Band, the studio jazz band, the high school concert band and the pit orchestra, playing trumpet. He also played “Taps” at veterans funerals and Methuen firefighter memorial benefits.

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