Annual Arts Weekend Celebrates Student Creativity & Performance
Annual Arts Weekend Celebrates Student Creativity & Performance
Liz Torrey

St. Andrew's welcomed parents and alumni back to campus this past weekend for the School's annual Arts Weekend. This three-day celebration of the visual and performing arts showcases student creative work across all artistic disciplines taught at St. Andrew's—drawing, painting, ceramics, and photography; choral and instrumental music; creative writing and film studies; and dance and theatre—while also giving families the opportunity to convene on campus and celebrate Mother's Day together.

"This extraordinary explosion of the arts just gets better and better every year," said Head of School Tad Roach during his closing remarks on Sunday. "When we built this building [the O'Brien Arts Center, constructed in 2004], we had no idea what was about to happen. The Class of 2017 has been part of the flourishing of the arts like we've never even imagined."

On Friday, May 12, the weekend began with the opening of the spring Student Art Show in the Warner Gallery and a reading from The Andrean, the School's literary journal, in the lobby of the O'Brien Arts Center. Nam Nguyen '18 read his poem "Delta", Noelle Yoo '18 read her poem "Enriched", and Hanna Soulati '18 read her poem "Norouz". You can read a digital edition of the The Andrean on our Issuu page.

Later that same evening, the St. Andrew's Orchestra performed in Engelhard Hall. Their program, which was titled "A Symphonic Mash-Up", included challenging works by Brahms (the first movement of his Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73), Tchaikovsky (the second movement of his Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36), Beethoven (third movement of Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36), and Dvorak (fourth movement of Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95). All of the works performed were chosen by both Geiersbach and Orchestra co-presidents Jacqueline Wang '17 and Daniel Jang '17. You can watch the entire concert on our Livestream channel.

"It's been an incredible year, just an amazing year," Orchestra Director Fred Geiersbach said in his introduction of the Dvorak piece, "and I owe all of that to the leadership of our seniors. Not everybody gets to be president [of the Orchestra] and choose the music, but everybody exerts considerable leadership in the sections, and it's been amazing to watch everybody grow over the years. They're all positioned to go off and contribute mightily to collegiate or university music programs." Geiersbach also asked Jacqueline and Daniel to come the conductor's podium for a round of applause, and acknowledged that "they've been incredible leaders to all of us."

On Saturday morning, the School community returned to Engelhard to enjoy a viewing of films produced and directed by students enrolled in Peter Hoopes' Film Studies courses, and a concert by student a cappella group The Noxontones. You can watch both of these performances on our Livestream channel. On Saturday evening, the SAS Jazz Ensemble, also directed by Fred Geiersbach, took the Engelhard stage for a performance of jazz standards and contemporary funk. The Jazz Ensemble has grown so much in recent years that this year Geiersbach created a second group for beginning musicians. Both groups performed two separate "mini" concerts on Saturday evening. You can watch the Jazz Ensemble performances on Vimeo.

Meanwhile, in the Forbes Theatre, the School's theatre program mounted Once In a Lifetime, a production of eight one-act plays (one example seen here) featuring two to four students in each, as well as a finale ensemble piece. The production was directed by visiting drama teacher LeMar McLean, who has been overseeing the theatre program this spring while drama teacher and Arts Department Co-Chair Ann Taylor is on a semester-long sabbatical. McLean is a writer, actor, and producer who (when not teaching at St. Andrew's) lives and works in New York City. You can view photos from Once in a Lifetime on Flickr.

We wrapped Arts Weekend 2017 on Sunday morning, where students, families, and faculty first gathered in the A. Felix duPont Memorial Chapel for a service of the Eucharist and a homily by VI Form parent Vik Malhotra '17. In his talk, Malhotra shared four lessons he's learned about leadership through the course of his life, from his teenage years at a boarding school in India, to his current position as Chairman of the Americas at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. You can listen to his Chapel Talk on our website. After the service, it was back to Engelhard Hall for performances by the Choral Scholars and the St. Andrew's Dance Company. The Choral Scholars first performed a concert of seven madrigals (Renaissance songs of four to six vocal lines written in local vernaculars, with lyrics that often tell a story or paint a vignette of everyday secular life), then performed a set of more contemporary choral pieces.

Dance students performed a number of ensemble ballet and contemporary dance pieces, including two dances from the comic ballet Coppélia; a ballet to a passage from Mendelssohn concert overture for A Midsummer's Night Dream, choreographed by Dance Company Director Avi Gold; and a traditional Rwandan dance which students dedicated to "refugees throughout time, especially those who are currently suffering around the world." You can watch the Choral Scholars and Dance Company performances on our Livestream channel.

In his closing remarks after the dance performance, Tad asked the Class of 2017 to join him on the Engelhard stage, and recognized the soon-to-graduate seniors for their contributions to the School, artistic and otherwise.

"This was one of those classes that has simply lifted us every single day," Tad said. "But we're thanking them for much more than their leadership in the arts. We're thanking them for developing and cultivating and fighting very hard every single day for a culture of acceptance and kindness and empathy within the School. It's so easy for us to believe that the values that places like St. Andrew's care about are actually only rhetorical. It takes a lot of work on a day-to-day basis by the faculty and the VI Form and the student body and our parent body to assert, over and over and over again, that despite what is happening outside in the world, there is a cause for goodness, and that cause for goodness is ultimately a creative act that we choose to engage in every single day. The strength of this place, the miracles that take place in this building and all across the School are enacted by a student body that cares deeply about getting better and better every year. So what the Class of 2017 has done is, they've allowed us to dream of an even better St. Andrew's."