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Lower School PAB Ensembles Perform in Winter Concert Series

Winter 2023 — Members of the Winsor community gathered to hear the end-of-semester performances of students in the Lower School Performing Arts Block (PAB) in January and February. The Instrumental concert, featuring the Wind Ensemble and Orchestra, and the Choral Concert, featuring the PAB Class I/II Chorus and Class III/IV Descants, were the 2nd and 3rd concerts in a series that began with a performance from PAB Dance ensembles in November. The Performing Arts Block takes place twice a week on Tuesday and Friday and offers Lower School students the opportunity to explore performing arts courses, either spending all year working in a chosen discipline or trying new things. In each of the concerts, student ensemble members presented the pieces to the audience with a short introduction and background. 

The PAB Dance Performance on November 8, 2022 featured performances by three dance groups, "Introduction to Dance" led by Sam Rosenberg, "World of Dance" led by Shikha Malhotra, and "Lower School Dance Team" led by Carey McKinley. The concert spanned many genres and styles of dance including contemporary, jazz, Latin jazz, and Bollywood Bhangra and included a dance with original choreography from the students. 

The instrumental concert of the PAB series featured the Lower School Wind Ensemble and Orchestra on January 27, 2023. Performing Arts Faculty Samantha Spear led the Wind Ensemble in arrangements of two pieces: “Castle House Rag” by James Reese Europe, and “Enchanted” by Taylor Swift. 

The Lower School Orchestra, led by Performing Arts Faculty Julia Connor, played in the second half of the program, performing Pablo de Sarasate’s energetic Zigeunerweisen which featured soloist Isabella Lai ’27 on the violin. Lai's virtuosic playing was well-suited to the piece, which showed off her ability to play both slow, soaring melodies and quick, energetic passages. The orchestra provided support punctuated through string pizzicato in the strings, melodic support, and a dramatic timpani in the third movement. 

The final concert in the series featured the PAB Choral Ensembles, taking place on Friday, February 3, 2023. Head of Performing Arts Felicia Brady Lopez introduced the program, and welcomed Choral Conductor Yufen Yen, who directs the Class I/II Chorus. Class I and II began the program with a song in Hebrew, “Al Shlosha D’Varim” arranged by Allan E. Naplan, featuring soloist Theoni Pantazis ’29. The program continued with the ‘80s hit, “The Never Ending Story” (made popular by the Netflix show Stranger Things), featuring soloist Madeline Karczmarek ’30, and “If I Knew You” by Cynthia Gray, featuring violin soloist Sophia Kennedy ’29. For the last piece, the chorus performed “Sarasponda,” in an arrangement by Ruth Boshkoff. The student presenters described the piece as a Dutch spinning song with nonsense lyrics, intended to be sung while spinning at a spinning wheel. For this song, the students developed light choreography to accompany the lively melody, clapping and stomping with choreographed arm movements.

To conclude the series, Descants, comprised this year of all Class III singers, took the stage with Choral Conductor Andrew Marshall. To begin, the choir performed three short settings by Andrea Ramsey from her collection Gems from J.M. Barrie, featuring lighthearted texts from the author of Peter Pan. The songs are short but descriptive; “Mother’s Love” is a lullaby, and “The Cleverness of Me'' evokes the playful trickery of Peter Pan with dotted rhythms and dissonances in the piano. In the last song of the set, “Teach Me To Sing,” the chorus sings, dreamlike, “if you cannot teach me to fly, teach me to sing.” Rounding out the concert, the choir performed “Maybe” from the musical Annie.

Special thanks is due to all the collaborators who made the concert series possible: Head of Performing Arts Felicia Brady-Lopez, Dance Faculty Carey McKinley, Sam Rosenberg, and Shikha Malhotra, Performing Arts Faculty Samantha Spear, Julia Connor, Yufen Yen, Andrew Marshall, and Technical Theater Director Andres Puigbo, Jeremiah Hickman-Maynard ’23 and members of the stage and lighting crew. 

To watch the concerts, please visit the links below. 

PAB Dance Concert, November 8, 2022

PAB Instrumental Concert, January 27, 2023

PAB Choral Concert, February 3, 2023