Students in concerts, festivals, out-of-state gigs - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Students in concerts, festivals, out-of-state gigs

February 25th, 2019 development

By Colleen Sparks

Managing Editor


Children and teens will display their talents and express their creativity in various concerts and theatrical performances in the Chandler Unified School District and across the country this month and next.

Parents, grandparents and other relatives, as well as anyone in the public can bring their children to see youths who have been hard at work rehearsing songs, dance and lines for the shows.

Here is a look at some of the upcoming productions:

CUSD Elementary Choral Festival will take place Feb. 20 and 21 at the Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Ave. The event is open to any elementary school in the Chandler Unified School District with a choir or chorus club.

This year 21 schools in the district will participate in the festival, with some coming on Feb. 20 and others on Feb. 21.

“The purpose of the festival is to expose our choir students to a different choral experience with other schools, increase their repertoire, and give them a chance to see a high school choir perform, which we hope in turn will motivate our elementary students to carry on with choir at the high school level,” said Megan Vogus, Basha Elementary School general music teacher and choir director.

Out of the 1,049 students taking part in the festival, 565 will sing on Feb. 20 and 484 will sing on Feb. 21. The students will listen to at least one choir from Perry High School perform first, under Jamison Staley’s direction.

After that, the schools will break into four groups and transition through a series of rotations with each school performing a song on stage.

They will also work with clinician Mandy Lamberth of Payne Junior High School on choral and rehearsal techniques and learn choreography from Monika Beauvais of Ryan Elementary School, as well as Mary Davis of Sanborn Elementary School.

After lunch, all schools will reunite on the main stage and every group will sing a song together. Then all students in the room will sing a final song with choreography at the end of the festival.

Katie Landon of Patterson Elementary School will serve as the emcee while Vogus is coordinating the festival.

Each year the festival chooses a theme on which to focus and this year it is “Partners in Harmony.” That means all the group songs and the final songs are considered partner songs, where two separate melodies are sung individually and then merged together as harmonic partners.

Parents of students in the festival can attend and are urged to ask their school’s choir director what time their school’s choir will perform individually.

The public may also attend the performances, but seating is limited when students are in the center for the final songs.

“The music teachers of CUSD love having this festival as a means to enrich our students’ choral experience and to motivate them to keep singing!” Vogus said, adding:

“At the elementary level the choirs are run as before or after school clubs, not as a class during the day as it would be at the secondary level. The elementary music teachers of CUSD go above and beyond to introduce their students to the joy of choir at an early age through these clubs, and our festival is a chance for us to be together doing one of the things we love most: singing in harmony.”

“Seussical Jr.,” a musical with songs and stories based on books Dr. Seuss wrote, will be performed at 6 p.m. on March 4 and 5 at Haley Elementary School, 3401 S. Layton Lakes Blvd. in Chandler.

A cast of 125 fourth- through sixth-graders who are in the school’s Drama Club will sing, dance and act in the musical that weaves together the “most famous tales and characters” in at least 15 of Dr. Seuss’ books, said Amy Miller, special education teacher at Haley Elementary and “Seussical Jr.” director.

Some of those books include “The Cat in the Hat,” “Horton Hears a Who!” and “I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew.”

Miller said she started a Drama Club at the school to offer special education students a “non-academic social outing.”

“Everyone’s in costume,” she said. “Everyone’s incorporated into the show. We have kids with special needs. We’ve done this show in a previous year and they just fall in love with it.”

The timing is great because the National Education Association’s Read Across America, an annual program to promote reading motivation and awareness encouraging every child in all communities to celebrate, is on March 2, which is Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

Kim Abrahamson is the music director for “Seussical Jr.” and general music teacher at Haley.

Miller said performing a musical teaches students great life skills including flexibility, collaboration and realizing “every role is important.”

“The kids are so excited to be in Drama Club,” she said. “They’re all pretty good kids and great listeners. This group that I’ve had this year, they are so well-behaved and they know that we only have a short amount of time together. They have been so well-mannered and focused.”

Perry High School Chamber Orchestra is going to fill the night with music at a concert March 5 on campus, then jet to Boston March 13-16 to perform in the Festival of the States program with Music Celebrations International.

All three orchestras at Perry High will perform a free concert at 7 p.m. on March 5 at the school, 1919 E. Queen Creek Road in Gilbert.

After that, the Perry High School Chamber Orchestra, the highest-level orchestra at the school, will go to Boston.

The 51 students, freshmen through seniors, will be in Boston March 13-16, playing four songs in a concert at 2 p.m. on March 15 at the prestigious Faneuil Hall. Referred to as the “Cradle of Liberty,” Faneuil Hall was a large market building where Patriots met on the eve of the American Revolution.

Meetings to talk about the Stamp Act, the Boston Massacre and other grievances with Britain were held there in the 1700s.

During their visit to Boston, Yoichi Udagawa, a cover conductor at the Boston Pops Orchestra, will work with the Perry High School Chamber Orchestra rehearsing their songs before their concert at Faneuil Hall, according to Valerie Dopp, orchestra director at Perry High.

Udagawa is also music director and conductor of the Cape Ann Symphony Orchestra, the Melrose Symphony Orchestra and the Quincy Symphony Orchestra, according to his website.

Rather than competing, the Festival of the States program gives Perry High orchestra a chance to play a whole program by itself, Dopp said.

“They are really excited about doing it and they’re working hard because this music is really challenging,” she said. “They’ve made lots of progress.”

The songs the Chamber Orchestra plans to play in Boston are “Concerto Grosso opus 6 no. VIII” by Arcangelo Corelli, “Serenade for String” by Sir Edward Elgar, “Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus” by Ralph Vaughan Williams and “Of Glorious Plumage” by Richard Meyer. Perry High violinists Kirstin Schroeder and Emily Vance and cellist Christopher Cutruzzula will perform solos in “Concerto Grosso opus 6 no. VIII.”

Besides rehearsing and performing, the Perry High Chamber Orchestra students will also have a chance to do sightseeing while in Boston. They will visit Cambridge Harbor, the sites of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill Monument, as well as other historically significant places.

“It will give the kids some good perspective about the Revolutionary War,” Dopp said. “This is a neat opportunity for me.”

Perry High School’s orchestras also reach out to people in the community.

The Concert and Symphonic orchestras performed songs for residents at The Enclave at Gilbert Senior Living around the winter holidays.

The Chamber Orchestra performed at Generations Assisted Living, where James “Ted” Perry, former district superintendent and the namesake for Perry High School, resides. Perry and his daughter listened to the Chamber Orchestra play.

“We have a wonderful orchestra program over here at Perry,” Dopp said. “This is my second year as the orchestra director and we have had many fantastic performance opportunities. We have some excellent musicians. Several of our students qualified for the Arizona Music Educators Association Regional Orchestra. Several students were in Arizona All-State (Orchestra) last year.”

“Night of Scenes,” a show where students will perform scenes and songs directed by the top student performers and directors, will be held at Hamilton High School at 7 p.m. on Feb. 27 in the school auditorium at 3700 S. Arizona Ave.

Every student in the top acting class at Hamilton was assigned to cast, direct and put together a short scene or song to perform. The scenes come from some of the most popular theater productions including “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Chicago” and “CLUE The Musical.” The audience will experience a night of laughs and tears from the start to finish. The 17 different scenes will come from a variety of unusual shows. Admission is $5 ahead of time when purchased at the Hamilton High bookstore and $7 at the door.