Students participate in fine arts ensembles from home


Courtesy of Yuki Chevray

Terpsichore member Yuki Chevray dances from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Edward Chen, Staff Writer

Senior Yukiko Chevray changes into athletic wear, moves her furniture against the walls and sets up her computer in front of her. She starts warming up and launches into a series of slow, elegant and connected movements with her body. Even in quarantine, she is still a ballerina. 

With the Upper School transition to online learning, performing ensembles no longer have structured class time. Students have found alternative ways to continue cultivating their artistic skills, even in isolation. 

Orchestra Director Penny Meitz created a “virtual enrichment program” comprised of videos to provide inspiration and levity. 

Members of Chorale, Les Chanteuses, and Kantorei are collaborating with Digital Applications students to create a virtual concert. Upper School Choir Director Scott Bonasso took inspiration from Eric Whitacre’s virtual choir concept in 2009 and has had the idea on his mind for a while. 

“I was looking for someone like Mr. Leakey who has professional experience as an audio engineer, and Mr. Leakey was looking for a choir like Kantorei to provide singers for Digiapps to do a project,” Bonasso said. “It all worked out.”

Les Chanteuses and Chorale will be performing in four volunteer groups, each with their respective group of sound editors in the DigiApps class. Their repertoire will include “Let It Be,” “Best Day of My Life,” “Count On Me” and a mashup of  “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful World.”

Kantorei will have a separate performance in which they will sing “Down in the River to Pray,” arranged by David L. Mennicke. DigiApps students sent singers a click track, sheet music and accompaniment to each student so singers could submit a recording of themselves, and the DigiApps seniors will compile the recordings into a video with appropriate edits and dynamics.

Junior Kantorei member Jenny Green is looking forward to the end product. Still, she says one of the most important aspects of singing in a choir is everyone being in the same room, allowing them to hear each other and adjust their voices. Making sure everyone has the same vowels, tones and degree of brightness or darkness would be more difficult virtually. 

During the regular schedule, Green participated in choir six out of the seven rotation days. Now, she doesn’t have a regular scheduled meeting time at all. Green says this sudden change has left her feeling a bit out of practice.

“I try to find a time and place to sing at home, but I don’t want to cause a disturbance for my family and neighbors,” Green said. 

The Upper School dance department’s annual spring showcase is indefinitely postponed. Although some classes have their own designated carrier, dance classes have also been canceled. The department teachers are working with Cli Studios for students to continue to stay active and hone their technique. Their website offers masterclasses from well-known choreographers and dance teachers, such as Mark Meismer, tWitch and Kathryn McCormick.

Chevray appreciates the prospect of having the opportunity to dance at home, but she is unhappy about missing the last moments of her dance career at SJS. She was looking forward to bowing alongside her fellow seniors at the spring showcase. 

Chevray says that the majority of the seniors are not planning to dance in college, so the department show would probably have been their last chance to perform.

“[Terpsichore] got really close this year, so I’m a little disappointed about the abrupt ending,” Chevray said.