As we reach the end of the holiday season, we look back at the highlights of it, and of our favorite holiday traditions here at The Harker School; not least of those is Downbeat’s annual holiday tour. Downbeat is a group of theatrically gifted sophomores, juniors, and seniors who incorporate dance and vocal interpretations into jazz and pop songs. In early December, Downbeat departed Harker at 8:45am for their tour day – a day when they perform festive, fun, and beautiful music all over the Bay Area. “We’ve gone to same places for several years now,” said Cathy Snider, one of Downbeats directors. It starts at the Lucile Packard Children’s hospital, where students sing throughout oncology wards, as well as bedside for childhood cancer patients. From there, they travel to Filoli Gardens, where they sing at a historical home that opens to the public during the holidays. Then the students hop back on the bus, and travel up to Pier 39 in San Francisco, where they perform right under the big Christmas tree, a stop on the tour that was added “just a few years ago so we could get them up to the City,” Snider said. After a quick stop for sundaes in Ghiradelli Square, the students are off once more, this time to The Forum, Assisted Living, where students perform both bedside and in the hallways for Alzheimer’s patients. It’s a quick jump from there to The Forum, a retirement community where residents live on their own and love to join in the singing. Finally, the group goes to The Fairmont Hotel in San Jose. “This is the most important part of the tradition for the families, because all the parents, and some teachers/admin take over the lounge and cheer us on!” Snider said.
Snider’s favorite part of the tour is not any one stop, though. “My favorite part of the day is watching the group really fuse as an ensemble,” she said. “Touring can be stressful, with the need for constant good cheer and adaptability, and on this tour they really become a unit, all while giving so freely of their compassion and energy.”