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When the Arts Meet Their Public
Posted 05/24/2017 09:00AM

By Anastasia Kolesnikova '18

Once a year, near the end of May, TASIS holds the Spring Arts Festival. It is a weekend of joy, music, drama, and arts, which is probably how the festival got its name. Here is a quick recap of this year’s highlights of one of the best weekends of the year, from the perspectives of both an insider and an observer.

Arts Festival 2017: Opening Celebration

 Arts Festival Opening

The assembly opened with remarks from Mr. Rigg. Participants presented their events. The High School choir announced the choir concert, accompanied by the presentation of “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles. Drama students presented a quick introduction to their work. A recent feat, Dr. Christopher Love’s Honors Literature Class presented this year’s Shakespearean film—Macbeth. For the first time ever, Ivan Semashev ’18 announced a community dramatic reading of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Instrumentalists, in the shapes of Hina Mituse ’18 and Tennessee Hilderbrand ’17, played a violin piece.

Ethan Frederiksen ’18, Semashev, and Roksolana Kozak ’19 reminded the audience of the value of the arts. Sergio Vinas ’19, Riccardo Borghesi ’19, and Maria Veronica Ramos ’19 cheered the audience up with an instrumental piece. Mr. Frazier-Smith and his Middle School Theater group introduced this year’s Middle School musical, Peter Pan JR., with a song. Francis Accilien ’19 sang. Finally, Mr. Martyn Dukes, Chair of the Fine Arts Department, officially proclaimed the Arts Festival open.

All-School Choral Concert

All-School Choral Concert

Choristers, as well as their teachers (and a few chorister teachers) assembled together at the Palmer Center an hour before the concert. It was a hectic time, with songs and entrances being run and blocked. I found myself in the middle of the chaos, absorbed in the movement. Choral concerts are always hectic, and it always seems like the songs that the choir knew so well had been forgotten overnight. Thankfully, though, memories were refreshed and throats were functioning, and as time came for the concert to start, all were ready to roll. The Elementary School started out, boosting their performance with the “cuteness factor.” The Middle School then presented their songs under the careful guidance of Ms. Grove Locke.

Then came our turn. We sang a Beatles Medley, which we have perfected, and although we started out weak due to nerves, we bloomed as the performance went on. The Faculty Choir then began the closure of the concert. Their songs stood out simply because they relied more on voice than on the music, and most of the songs were partially a cappella. The concert then ended with all the choirs singing the uplifting “Seize the Day.” The choral concert is a great place to showcase the hard work that went on throughout the whole year.

English Class Page to Palmer Center Stage

English Class Page to Palmer Center Stage

A recent development, this part of the Arts Festival is small but very very vital to the learners of English Literature. The Honors World Literature class presents one of the biggest assignments of the year (I would know, I’ve been through it)—the filmed Shakespeare scene. It is a project that requires teamwork, imagination, and a lot of memorizing of Shakespearean lines. This year’s film was a scene from Macbeth, directed by Alexander Secilmis, more of whose work you can find here. A few poems and monologues were also presented by literature enthusiasts.

Community Dramatic Reading: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Community Dramatic Reading: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

The first year that a dramatic reading has been done, this was a success. Potterheads from all over the school assembled to enjoy the newest book in the series. Volunteers read parts, acting out the book as if it was a readthrough for a future stage. Sometimes, good-natured fights arose when two or more people wanted the same part, but they were always quickly resolved. Everyone could enjoy being part of the magical world of Harry Potter.

I asked the two people seemingly in charge about how this came to be. Ms. Carlson replied, “This idea is mostly thanks to Mr. Peters. For a few years now, he has been talking about assembling a few students and reading a dramatic work out loud, for fun.”

Ms. Carlson and Ivan Semashev seized the opportunity when their copies of The Cursed Child arrived. “I remember I sent [Ms. Carlson] an email when my book arrived,” confessed Semashev. “It just seemed like a great idea.” And the outcome was definitely far from disappointing, with a few individuals (me included) hoping for a repeat of a similar thing next year.

The Middle School Musical: Peter Pan JR.

The Middle School Musical: Peter Pan JR.

The Middle School Theater troupe has worked super hard this year to put on the musical Peter Pan JR. With stellar performances by Yavor Georgiev (Hook), Ben Carlson-Peters (Smee), Ella Abisi (Peter Pan), Ivan Linnikov (John Darling), Pedro Cardoso Dias (Michael Darling), and Jane Wilson (Wendy Darling)—to name a few—this show was a hit.

Individual Instrumental Recitals

Individual Instrumental Recitals

Mandatory for juniors, I watched the instrumental recitals. There were a vast number of instrumentalists, with an even vaster repertoire. The two hours were filled with classical and contemporary music, including a few recent hits. The highlights of the performance were Shu Ye ’18 and Yu Ying Chan ’18, who masterfully delivered a double piano concerto by Poulenc. Jiwon Byeon ’19 also astonished me with a skillful rendition of the highly technical “Ritual Fire Dance” by M. de Falla.

The audience certainly perked up at sophomore Hilary Ma’s flute solo of the famous suite from “Carmen.” Middle School students diversified the instrumental recitals with some vocal performances, accompanied by High School students like Andrija Ilic ’18. Borghesi captivated the audience with his masterful drum performance. The guitar studio brought some technology into the world of music and made the audience laugh, clap, and sing along with a few of the contemporary songs that were played. The band brought a strong finish, with Vinas, Maria Veronica Ramos ’19, and Borghesi playing an RNR Medley, with the highlight being an enthusiastic rendition of “La Bamba.”

Vocal Recitals

Vocal Recitals

This year’s theme for the vocal recitals was “Old Sweet Songs.” After a quick introduction (and this year, it was surprisingly quick), Maestro di Canto Jonathan Morris introduced each of his students as they came up to sing. The repertoire was mixed in all aspects of music—genres, languages, and themes—but what truly united all the performances were the passion, skill, and beauty with which each was delivered.

Sergio Vinas opened the recital with “The Lord’s Prayer.” Ethan Fredericksen delivered a passionate rendition of “No Standing Still” from this year’s musical, MCF: What a Life! Tanya Paul ’18 delivered a masterful performance of “Beau Soir” by Debussy and was succeeded by Semashev singing “One Hand, One Heart” from the classic West Side Story. Performing for the first time was Thais Bird ’19, who delivered an outstanding performance of “What I did for love.”

Sofya Rappoport ’22, a newbie taking classes from High School Music Director Samantha Forrest, sang the melancholic “Somewhere Only We Know,” which resulted in a large applause, for she was the only middle schooler performing at a High School recital. Of course, that made her more nervous, but she did a great job with her songs. Lauren Riba ’19, from whom we have come to expect so much, once again blew everyone away by the power in her voice with the songs “Summertime” and “Somewhere.”

Finishing off strong was Francis Accilien ’19, who had the audience on their knees after a greatly entertaining version of “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” In the words of none other than Mr. Morris himself, the young man has shown the power and passion that radiates from his eyes whenever he sings, and that resulted in a masterful performance.

Outdoor Concert and Art Workshops

Outdoor Concert and Art Workshops

The music did not end there, with the bands taking turns playing on the outdoor theater as the community enjoyed various activities outside (thank God the weather was good). Some of the activities included basket weaving, Totem Pole making, pottery, and caricature drawing. The activities are always a hit with both the older and the younger students, as well as (sometimes) the parents.

Visual Art Exhibitions

Visual Art Exhibitions

From the perspective of visual arts, an exhibition was held in the Palestra, showcasing some of the best work of students in grades Pre-K to 12, in various visual arts disciplines: drawing, architecture, painting, ceramics, and photography. Each discipline showcased state-of-the-art work, with pieces from Claire Young ’18, Anna Alyakina ’19, Chan ’18, Angelina Not ’18, Bryan Soh ’18, Sezer Tahiroglu ’19, Ye ’18, Diana Dulina ’18, Marla Fritz ’17, Zere Turlykhanova ’17, Lara Ozdemir ’18, Diana Khassanova ’19, and many more standing out. It was a gorgeous assembly of wonderful art.

Closing Concert

Closing Concert

The closing concert was the one of the biggest and most action-packed concerts in a while. Despite some disruption from the audience, everyone managed to have a good time. The orchestra came in to provide accompaniment for some of the instrumental pieces that were presented as well as the choral Requiem that I took part in. The instrumental pieces sounded magnificent with the undertones of the orchestra.

The end of the program was the choral performance of the Requiem. It has been a hard, long few months where we tried to learn and perfect all of the selections that were presented, and it feels truly wonderful to be able to say that we have done it and we sounded gorgeous. We were a group of colorful dresses, all dressed professionally, although in different colors, which I think only added to the underlying meaning of the Arts Festival. It is the Arts Festival that brings together people of different backgrounds and allows them to share the experience of creating beauty together.

For more on the 2017 Spring Arts Festival, including video clips from many of the performances, see this article. Many more photos can also be found on the TASIS SmugMug page.

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