This article was originally published in the Harker Quarterly Spring 2011 Edition
Fifth Graders ‘Go West’
By Steve M. Boyle ’06
This January Harker’s entire grade 5 class took part in multiple performances of the musical “Go West,” by John Jacobson and Roger Emerson.
The musical, billed as “a musical celebration of America’s westward expansion,” was directed by music teacher Jennifer Cowgill, and the cast included 120 students. Cowgill used the cast to create rich crowd scenes including cowboys, belles, reporters, journalists, businessmen, horses and cows. “They are singing two and three-part harmonies in a number of songs in the show. This is very impressive for a group of more than 100 fifth graders,” said Cowgill.
Students from the lower, middle and upper schools were eager to pitch in. Danny Dunn’s grade 5 technical theater class served as stage crew, handling props and directing traffic behind the scenes (see story, page 28).
Cowgill noted the importance of learning the process: “The process of rehearsing for a show allows them to take risks and share creativity, work with others and develop consideration for the people with whom they interact every day,” Cowgill wrote in her program notes. “By being involved in this, they are beginning to develop life skills that stretch beyond the classroom.” To read the full story in Harker News [Online], search on “Go West.”
Winter Concert 2011
By Zach Jones
The 2011 Winter Concert on Jan. 14 brought together groups from all three campuses for a special two-part show at the Blackford Theater. With eight groups performing, the concert provided a well rounded view of the talents of Harker’s many instrumentalists.
The Lower School String Ensemble, directed by Toni Woodruff, began the show with their versions of “Sword Dance” by Bob Phillips and “Bach Country Fiddles.” The Lower School Orchestra and Lower School Jazz Ensemble, both directed by Louis Hoffman, then followed, performing a number of popular pieces, including the orchestra’s performance of Strauss’ “Radetzky March” and the jazz ensemble’s rendition of Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music.”
Directed by David Hart, who also directed the Grade 6 Orchestra and the Grade 7-8 Orchestra, the Middle School Jazz Band played well-known tunes such as “The Saints Go Marching In” and Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the ‘A’ Train.”
The Grade 6 Orchestra’s set included the Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts” and a rousing performance of the famous “James Bond Theme” by Monty Norman. Grades 7 and 8 played “Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity” from Holst’s “The Planets” and concluded with “New World, Mvt. I” from Dvorák’s “Symphony No. 9.”
The Harker School Jazz Band and The Harker School Orchestra, upper school groups directed by Chris Florio, closed the evening. The jazz band was joined by two special guests from Tamagawa Gakuen, Miyu Kondo on tenor saxophone and Marina Saito on baritone saxophone. They performed such tunes as “Bones For Basie” by English composer Alan Hare and the rollicking “You Can Have It” by Morgan Ames and James Foster.
After a brief intermission, the upper school orchestra concluded the concert with their performances of pieces by Verdi, Schubert and Brahms. Their performance of Saint-Saëns’ foreboding “Danse Bacchanale,” from “Samson and Dalila,” brought the show to an exhilarating close.
Grade 2 and 3 Holiday Show
By Zach Jones
The talents of grades 2 and 3 filled the Bucknall Theater with seasonal cheer at the special holiday show, titled “Home at Harker for the Holidays,” on Dec. 16. The show featured all students in both grades, each singing a wide array of holiday songs.
Louis Hoffman, lower school music teacher, directed the show. Second and third graders collaborated for the opening number, “December Nights.” Grade 2 students carried on with songs such as “Over the River and Through the Woods” and a tune called “Piñata,” which included swinging at piñatas suspended above the stage.
The grade 3 singers took the stage shortly after to perform a special selection of songs, including “Arbolito,” sung entirely in Spanish and accompanied by lower school Spanish teacher Anita Gilbert on vocals, music teachers Toni and Paul Woodruff on violin and piano, and four student instrumentalists, also from grade 3: cellist Rachel Broweleit, violinist Gabriel Chai, violinist Kyle Li and cellist Jeffrey Yang.
For the final performance, both classes once again took the stage to sing “Around the World at Holiday Time” and the grand finale, “Jingle Bell Rock.”
Grade 1 Holiday Show
By Zach Jones
Grade 1 students provided plenty of holiday cheer to the audience at the Bucknall Theater during their holiday concert in mid-December.
Directed by Louis Hoffman, lower school music teacher, the entire first grade class sang a diverse repertoire of holiday themed songs, including “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” They also performed a medley of traditional songs about Hanukkah.
The halfway point of the show featured a dance number to the song “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Johnny Marks, with choreography by after-school dance teacher Kristin Maurer. During the second half, grade 1 homeroom teachers Rita Stone, Cindy Proctor, Diann Chung and Mary Holaday took the stage, dancing to “Gingerbread Cookies” with giant gingerbread cookie cut-outs.
Following the show, students and parents attended a special after-party in the Bucknall gym, where they enjoyed cookies, hot chocolate and a special appearance by Frosty the Snowman.
By William Cracraft
Student-Directed Showcase (SDS) is the culmination of four years of hard work tempered both by fun and the passion performers bring to their craft. Each year eager seniors apply to take this course, taught by Laura Lang-Ree, and the lucky few get an unusual glimpse into the world of play direction and production.
Each director must choose the piece to be presented, plan the set, audition the cast and arrange for all the necessary technical help to make the production a success. This year four seniors, Adi Parige, Mallika Dhaliwal, Allika Walvekar and John Ammatuna, took up their tasks with a will and produced some great theater.
The shows this year were “Hard Candy” (Walvekar), “The Marvelous Wonderettes” (Ammatuna), “The Dancers” (Dhaliwal) and “All in the Timing” (Parige).
“I never realized how many views there are when looking at a show,” Ammatuna said. “I had to look at it as a director, musical director, costumer, props manager, choreographer, technician and audience member, but learning to look at the show in so many ways was a great experience.”
Walvekar agreed. “I definitely realized that you have to stay true to your directorial vision, but you also have to be flexible,” she said. “Not everything can happen the way you first envisioned it, so you have to be willing to adapt.”
All four students will take away a lifetime experience from the shows they produced. “SDS was the most amazing opportunity, and I will treasure it forever because it allowed me to grow both as an artist and as a person,” said Dhaliwal.
See the full story in Harker News Online; search on “SDS.”
By Zach Jones
Upper school vocal group Bel Canto was joined by several friends for the annual WinterSong concert on Jan. 21 in the Nichols Hall auditorium. Directed by Catherine Snider, Bel Canto kicked off with “Everybody Rejoice,” from the musical “The Wiz,” followed by a version of Mozart’s “Ave Verum” and “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” from the musical “Hair.”
The next phase of the concert featured a number of impressive solo performances by Harker Conservatory certificate candidates, including guitarist Nidhi Gandhi, grade 12, playing “Rondo, Op. 48” by Fernando Sor; Allika Walvekar, grade 12, singing the Weill/Gershwin piece “My Ship”; Catherine Stiles, grade 12, performing a Scarlatti piece on the harp; and junior Charles Levine performing an original piano piece, titled “Winter.”
For the final portion, Bel Canto once again gathered onstage, singing “Ose Shalom,” a traditional Hebrew text set to music by John Leavitt, and the traditional spiritual “Shine on Me.”
Upper School Dance Draws on Vivid Sources to Celebrate the Natural World
By Steve M. Boyle ’06
The upper school dance production, a yearly celebration of dance with choreography by upper school dance teachers and students, was presented in late January. This year’s production, “Be-A-Muse(d),” was designed by artistic director Laura Rae as an investigation of inspiration and creative processes in the natural world.
“Be-A-Muse(d)” heavily showcased technology to tell its story, with twin projector screens flanking the Blackford stage, reflecting a series of breathtaking panoramas and metropolitan vignettes.
This year’s production drew its music from a panoply of popular, classical, cultural and expressive sources, making room for contemporary bands like Muse and Temper Trap alongside a Hans Zimmer soundtrack, Charles Mingus’ jazz and Niña Pastori’s flamenco.
Student dancers wore shimmering, futuristic outfits that reflected the stage lights, and one memorable moment featured a musical number composed entirely from the startup sounds of a Windows computer.
The production reached its apex in the rendition of the heartbreaking song “This Bitter Earth.” There, dancers in dusty, brown, wrinkled costumes – like decaying leaves in autumn – danced a dipping, worn-down ode, an illustration of the death required for seasonal rebirth.
“Be-A-(Muse)d” was choreographed by teachers Laura Rae, Karl Kuehn, Amalia Vasconi and Adrian Bermudez, along with students Carmen Das-Grande, Katie Forsberg, Nidhi Gandhi, Amritha Minisandram, Daisy Mohrman, Naomi So, Kenny Wong, Erica Woolsey, all grade 12; Sarika Asthana, Sonya Chalaka, Sarah Howells, Margaret Krackeler, all grade 11; and Tiphaine Delepine, Michaela Kastelman, Molly Wolfe, all grade 10.
See the full story in Harker News Online; search on “dance.”