Spring Arts Showcase Goes Forward

Beginning+Band+plays+Beethoven%27s+Theme+from+Symphony+No.+9.+%28Source%3A+Margaret+McKenna%29

Beginning Band plays Beethoven’s Theme from Symphony No. 9. (Source: Margaret McKenna)

By Catherine Cox (V), Staff Writer

There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed the way we live our lives, putting many events on hold and forcing us to take new approaches — from online learning to interacting with relatives and friends on Zoom. The challenges of COVID-19, however, are no match for the creativity of the staff and students of the Boston Latin School Arts department. On April 30 and May 14, BLS students and faculty took the Spring Arts Showcase to a virtual space, entertaining audience members with two nights of performances and art displays.

During a year of virtual learning, art faculty and members of the BLS performing arts groups have the added challenge of switching to an online recording format to make the virtual showcase possible. This new format has allowed students to combine their individual recordings into a performance of their piece.

While the experience was different from previous years, Mark Snekvik (V) remarks, “There wasn’t the excitement or gratification of performing in person, [but] it was definitely exciting to see my band and choir perform together, all on one screen.” He elaborates that, ”we’ve been working largely on our own, recording without hearing pieces together, and this was the first opportunity we had to hear all of us together.”

Learning to use tools such as Soundtrap, a digital audio workstation, and Flipgrid, a video recording website, brought students’ performances together in a virtual space to create new opportunities and challenges.

Cortney Lenz (V), a member of the Class V Chorus, saw some positives in the virtual format. Lenz states, “The one thing that I liked was being able to record [the song] over and over until you got the one you liked […] The other [positive] was that if you did mess up, but could not go back and fix it, the people who put together the videos could mute or turn down your mic for that part.”

Natalia Troy (IV), a member of Concert Band Purple, also shared her views on performing in the virtual showcase and acknowledged both positive and negative aspects of the virtual format.

“It was not as stressful [to perform in the virtual format], but I sort of feel like it seemed as though it did not matter as much. A lot of people were not as worried about it and some people might not have tried as hard,” says Troy.

Although audience members only saw the students in the showcase, there was plenty occurring behind the scenes as well. The two-part showcase would not have been possible without the hard work of dedicated faculty. Many teachers spent long periods of time making sure each video synchronized with the music. In the end, all art pieces were shown and every student had an opportunity to shine.

Mr. Dennison Blackett, a teacher in the Music Department, helped produce the showcase, putting in long hours behind the scenes to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for viewers. He praised the hard work of his colleagues, stating, “It was a pleasure to view everyone else’s music choices and [witness] all the talent that we are surrounded by. I’m so proud to be part of such a dedicated music staff!”

The virtual format of the Spring Arts Showcase created a way for BLS students to share their work in the Visual Arts as well. AP Art and Class VI visual arts students displayed their work during the showcase to celebrate their creativity and dedication over the school year.

Mr. Joseph Carrigg, a seventh-grade visual arts teacher, highlighted his students’ art in the showcase and appreciated the collaboration that brought the visual and performing arts together. “I gathered about 50 images of sixie artwork […] Then a parent volunteer put them into the showcase. It was great to have the Jazz band play music as these artworks were shown. The Music and Theater Department rocked in putting together all the mixes of music and performances,” states Mr. Carrigg.

Even though the pandemic has put many events on hold, students and faculty from BLS’s visual and performing arts department showcased their creativity and resilience, bringing together the BLS community and demonstrating that despite a pandemic, the show must always go on.