The 43rd annual TASIS Spring Arts Festival began with an Opening Celebration in the Palestra on the morning of May 18, at which Headmaster Lyle Rigg declared, “I know of no school that does a better job of celebrating the arts than TASIS. This is truly a monumental undertaking on the part of our extremely talented and creative students and faculty, from Pre-Kindergarten through postgraduate.”
Mr. Rigg noted that, over the course of the following four days, the TASIS community would come together to celebrate both vocal and instrumental music, dance, theater, painting, drawing, photography, architecture, sculpture, ceramics, and many other creative endeavors. “It is truly a time to celebrate,” he proclaimed. “As Albert Einstein once said, ‘Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.’ And over the next four days, you will have many opportunities for your imaginations to take you everywhere.”
Founded by Horst Dürrschmidt and Fernando Gonzales in 1974, the Spring Arts Festival emphasizes beauty in all forms and serves as a time in which students and teachers can demonstrate their talents, gain exposure to a variety of art forms, and celebrate one another’s accomplishments and talents.
Many of this year’s performances were captured on film and can be enjoyed below.
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The Opening Celebration in the Palestra featured performances from the TASIS High School Choir and student instrumentalists, singers, and actors—previewing what was to come in the ensuing days.
The celebration continued with an All-School Choral Concert in the Palmer Center on Thursday evening that featured performances by Elementary, Middle, High School, and Faculty choirs. The choirs were directed by Melody Tibbits Zanecchia (Elementary School), Sarah Grove Locke (Middle School), Samantha Forrest (High School), and Tamara Schumacher (Faculty). Maestro di Canto Jonathan Morris and Gloria De Piante Vicin served as the accompanists.
The festival took a turn to the dramatic on Thursday evening in the Palmer Center with an event entitled English Class Page to Palmer Center Stage, in which students from High School English classes presented Shakespearean monologues, sonnets, and world poetry in translation. Dr. Chris Love's Honors World Literature class also screened two exceptional videos: the first a gripping portrayal of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the second a creative look at students reciting poetry in their native languages while ascending the School's most iconic staircase.
The four-day festival also had plenty to offer for visual arts enthusiasts, as student and faculty exhibitions were open to the public Friday through Sunday. The Palestra was filled with High School, Middle School, and Elementary School art; the Horst Dürrschmidt Gallery in the Ferit Şahenk Fine Arts Center featured selected IB and AP student work from Photography, Drawing & Painting, and Architecture & Design classes; and Villa De Nobili and Monticello featured additional student photography and artwork.
Friday morning opened with a conducting workshop for students in grade five. Led by Elementary School Music Teacher Melody Tibbits Zanecchia, students took turns conducting a professional chamber orchestra in the Palmer Center.
Guests were treated to The Carnival of Animals in the Palestra on Friday afternoon. Camille Saint-Saëns’ musical suite featured TASIS student soloists backed by the chamber orchestra, which was conducted by Mohammad Shelechi.
A Community Dramatic Reading of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was held in the Palmer Center on both Friday and Saturday afternoon. Potterheads of all ages were invited to take part in the two-part dramatic reading of the newest installment in the Potterverse.
Friday evening brought the long-awaited premiere of the Middle School Musical, Peter Pan JR., a modern version of the timeless tale about a boy who never grew up. Featuring the unforgettable Peter Pan (played by Ella Abisi '21), Wendy Darling (Jane Wilson '22), and Captain Hook (Yavor Georgiev '22), the musical adventure delighted audiences with clever word play, charming musical numbers, and thrilling action scenes.
Matthew Frazier-Smith directed the show, which was also performed on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. Julie Frazier-Smith was the choreographer, Ivan Artukovich designed and painted the exquisite set, and Sarah Grove Locke and Melody Tibbits Zanecchia served as musical directors. Learn more about the the cast and crew.
"I could not be more proud of the creative energy invested by the students involved with Peter Pan JR.," said Mr. Frazier-Smith, who is also directing the Elementary School Musical that will premiere on June 1. "Through consistent engagement and dedication to the rehearsal process, they were able to produce a truly memorable show with so many wonderful, hilarious, and touching theatrical moments."
Peter Pan JR. could not be filmed due to strict copyright restrictions, but please enjoy a gallery of School Photographer Kim Nelson’s excellent photographs here.
Saturday’s slate opened in the Palmer Center with individual instrumental and vocal recitals by students in grades Kindergarten–5 from 10:30–11:30 and by student in grades 6–12 from 12:00–1:30.
Following the second Harry Potter reading and the start of the second Peter Pan JR. performance, an Open Mic Night was offered for students and faculty on the Villa De Nobili Terrace.
TASIS High School students from the studio of Jonathan Morris, Maestro di Canto, performed a vocal recital in the Palmer Center to kick off Sunday’s festivities.
The Vocal Class Recital was immediately followed by High School and Middle School Band Presentations in the outdoor theater.
The campus was buzzing with activity throughout the afternoon. Those not at the matinee finale of Peter Pan JR. were able to enjoy Steli & Incontri, interactive installations by Stalker Teatro of Turin, and a number of outdoor art workshops: basket weaving with artisan Denise Realini, caricature drawing with graphic illustrator and cartoonist Ivan Artucovich, Chinese calligraphy and painting with artist Sufen Knuth, ceramic tile painting and tie-dye T-shirts and bags with TASIS art teacher Simona Bellini, the creation of a colored totem pole with TASIS art students, and pottery with ceramicists Brigit Hurst and Samuel Vogel.
Following a late-afternoon performance of The Unknown (video footage cannot be shared due to copyright restrictions) by TASIS High School Theater classes, the grand final of the Spring Arts Festival—the 2017 Arts Festival Concert—was held in the Palestra in front of a packed house. The magnificent performance featured student soloists backed by the Arts Festival Chamber Orchestra, songs from the All-School Combined Choir, and the piano accompaniment of Jonathan Morris and Gloria de Piante Vicin.
At the concert’s conclusion, High School Music Director Samantha Forrest and Fine Arts Department Chair Martyn Dukes thanked the many, many students, faculty, and staff who made this wonderful celebration of the arts possible. “Once again, I think we have made a fitting and rather splendid finish to the festival,” said Mr. Dukes. “Each year, it seems to get better and better.”
Flanked by a professional orchestra, student musicians, and magnificent pieces of artwork on display, Mr. Dukes continued, “As Chair of Fine Arts and as a teacher and as a spectator, I’ve been really impressed by each and every student achievement, small or large, over the last few days. Clearly many, many hours of hard work and sacrifice have paid off. The Spring Arts Festival celebrates and recognizes not only students’ and teachers’ achievements, but also shows us the true nature of the arts—of disciplines working together and artists being unified. And indeed much of the last four days has been about teamwork, as you can see behind me.”
2017 Spring Arts Festival Photo Galleries