Performing Arts Is Active As Holidays Approach

The transition from fall to winter traditionally marks a high point for Princeton Day School's Performing Arts students, with highly anticipated performances involving PreK-Grade 12 across the School's diverse instrumental ensembles, choral groups, theater and dance programs, and more. This year, in lieu of live performances, the Performing Arts at PDS, led by Stan Cahill, Director of Performing & Fine Arts/Design (as well as US Theater), is sharing a series of pre-recorded videos, livestreams and audio tracks to celebrate student efforts. A robust slate of December recorded performances ushers in the holiday break and previews upcoming Performing Arts virtual events in January. 

Recently recorded Performing Arts activities include:

  • Dance videos of PDS dancers recorded under the direction of US Dance Teacher Ann Robideaux, including this dance tribute to famous film producer and musical choreographer Bugsby Berkeley in celebration of his birthday on November 29
  • From the movie La La Land, composed by Justin Hurwitz and arranged by James Kazik, "City of Lights" performed by a trio of MS Strings players directed by MS/US Strings Director Dr. Tomasz Rzeczycki (video above)
  • Rousing High School Musical selections from the US Performance class, with choreography by Ms. Robideaux
  • As part of one Upper School band class exercise with MS/US Band Director Channing McCullough, two students performed a flute and bass duet with Ava Fong '23 on flute playing remotely and Ben Maschler '23 playing bass on-campus (video below)

Performing Arts works in progress include:

  • MS Strings: Directed by Dr. Tomasz Rzeczycki, 5th Grade Strings are working this semester on two movements from a Vivaldi Sonata (in addition to "City of Lights" from La La Land, as seen above); 6th Grade Strings worked on the musical theme from the TV classic Bonanza, composed by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans and arranged by Robert Longfield; 7th Grade Strings are working on music from Enchanted composed by Alan Menken and arranged by James Kazik, and "Frosty The Snow Man" composed by Steve Melson and Jack Rollins and arranged by Bruce Chase; 8th Grade Strings are working on a selection from La La Land composed by Justin Hurwitz and arranged by Robert Longfield and "Concerto Grosso Op.6, No.1" by George Frederic Handel arranged by Sandra Dackow.

  • US Orchestra under the baton of Dr. Tomasz Rzeczycki has enjoyed treasured experiences in music-making and has used Soundtrap as a cooperation platform. They have completed recordings of two movements from "Holberg Suite" by Edward Grieg and are currently working on "Let It, Snow, Let It, Snow, Let it Snow" by Sammy Cahn and arranged by Johnnie Vinson.

    "These student musicians are very dedicated to ensemble music-making. They love to cooperate in person or remotely and work on various projects related to playing their instrument, music history and music theory," Dr. Rzeczycki shared.

  • Middle School Band and Upper School Band are busy at work under the direction of MS/US Music teacher and Band Director Channing McCullough (also Fifth Grade Dean and Acting Middle School Co-Head). 7th Grade Band is working on "Great Movie Adventures" which includes themes from Star Wars, Jurassic Park and ET, composed by John Williams and arranged by Michael Sweeney. 7th Grade Bucket Beats is working on a percussion piece called "Can-O-Saurus" written by Chris Brooks. 8th Grade Band is working on "Low Rider" by War after comparing and contrasting songs that sample the same iconic bass-line. Upper School Band has compiled video recordings of "Skating in the Park" in the process of studying the "Modern Jazz Quartet" and its influence on the music scene of New York City.
  • Upper School Treble Choir is preparing to sing "Jolene" by Dolly Parton and Bass Choir will be singing "The Longest Time" by Billy Joel, directed by Choral Director Edgar Mariano. Madrigals singers, who have been rehearsing outside and using technology to sing together throughout the fall, are continuing to develop their winter performance pieces as well. Madrigals student voices are also featured on their new Instagram platform.
  • Fifth and Sixth Grade Discovery Band students under the direction of MS/US Music teacher Tom Buckelew are working on a rendition of the Queen classic "We Will Rock You." Students will record the percussion parts in the McAneny theater this week and instrumental portions will be recorded remotely in early January.
  • This year, LS Music teacher Julia Beckmann has reimagined the Lower School Winter Concert, in collaboration with LS Visual Arts and Design Coordinator Jennifer Gallagher, based on the book Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter by Kenard Pak. Lower School students have been developing program components in music and art classes; each grade will share a special part of the story through music, movement and art. The LS Winter Arts Celebration will be pre-recorded and available to view after winter break in January.
  • Theater program events in December include the virtual Upper School Fall Theater Festival and the Zoom-performed Middle School playDo You Read Me? The US Theater Festival features video productions of five short student-written plays voted as finalists from a crop of 25 student entries. The festival culminates with the announcement of the entry judged as the winner by an independent theater industry professional. Five student directors were selected to bring the productions to life as video performances.The five finalist plays, in alphabetical order by student author, should premiere by the time December break begins: Eight at the Cost of One by Madeline Chia '21, The Duel by Avery Eiseman '22, Imagination, Incorporated by Hope Jerris '21, Scarred by Yael Tuckman '22 and The Mirror by Veronica Vogelman '22. Do You Read Me? is based on a unique play by Kathryn Funkhauser and was expressly created to be performed remotely on Zoom. MS theater students are videoing and producing the play, which will be available for viewing on December 18. 

In ways that span the creative spectrum, the Performing Arts are alive and well at PDS this year for students learning on campus and remotely!

For more on the Upper School student plays, see our previous news story and a recent feature in "The Spokesman," written by Ava Fong '23. 

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