Upper school vocal groups Downbeat and Bel Canto teamed up in late April for the annual “Songs Into Summer” concert, one of the last performances of the year from both groups and a fitting send-off for graduating seniors who performed with them during much of their high school lives.
Each group performed songs from their diverse repertoires, with some new songs thrown in to make the event extra special. Bel Canto kicked off the show with their performance of “Everybody Rejoice,” from the musical “The Wiz,” employing light yet infectious choreography and clapping. Downbeat followed with a raucous version of The Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin’,” with the performers decked out in ’60s garb and dancing through the aisles on their way to the stage.
Rock and pop music were favored for much of the show by Downbeat, who also performed versions of “Dust in the Wind” by ’70s rock group Kansas and the Natasha Bedingfield hit “Unwritten.”
Bel Canto showed their love for the classics, including Mozart’s “Ave Verum” and traditional pieces such as “Shine On Me” and “Shenandoah,” which featured violin accompaniment by Downbeat member Alex Najibi, grade 11. Bel Canto also had wonderful accompaniment on piano from Ramya Rangan, grade 11, who has spent the entire year as the group’s accompanist.
Downbeat’s much-anticipated performance of the Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody” didn’t disappoint. After rigorous practice, the group fired on all cylinders, bringing the art rock epic to life with great vocal performances and choreography, which included stomping and headbanging during song’s famous “hard rock” section, drawing cheers from the large audience.
The seniors in Downbeat (there were none in Bel Canto this year) were then recognized for their time and dedication with gifts from their fellow students. Next year’s new Downbeat members – Govi Dasu, grade 11, Rohan Chandra, Cristina Jerney and Indu Seeni, all grade 10, and Suraj Chandrasekhar, Shenel Ekici, Sean Knudsen and Namrata Vakkalagadda, all grade 9 – were also announced and given sweatshirts to christen their new membership, before the group performed Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” to conclude the show.
Bel Canto is directed by Catherine Snider. Downbeat is co-directed by Snider and Laura Lang-Ree.