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PAB Encourages Lower School Students to Take Risks

May 24, 2024—The Performing Arts Block, colloquially called PAB at Winsor, is an opportunity for Lower School students to explore the arts in Classes I through IV. Students can choose from a variety of electives in voice, dance, and orchestra, and spend the semester honing their craft, culminating in a performance for the community. 

On Friday, May 3, Lower School students enjoyed a PAB choral concert. Directed by Yufen Yen and accompanied by Head of Performing Arts Felicia Brady-Lopez on piano, students in Chorus I/II sang three pieces, including “Galop” with lyrics and music by Ken Berg. Sharing their rendition of “Seasons of Love” from RENT—which was this year’s Upper School spring musical—the piece featured four soloists: Laena Humphrey ’31, Lucy Mohan ’30, Rianne Chen ’30, and Shreya Swaroop ’31. Illumina—the Upper School’s student chorus—often performs a fan-favorite Disney medley, and Chorus I/II performed their own version of “Disney Movie Showstoppers” arranged by Mac Huff featuring two soloists—Heloise Choumert ’30, Sophia Ferrera ’30—and songs from Beauty and the Beast (“Be Our Guest”), Toy Story (“You’ve Got a Friend in Me”), and The Little Mermaid (“Under the Sea”), complete with coordinated moves to mimic the waving sea and diving under the surface of the water.

Chorus I/II was joined by Descants—the Class III and IV chorus—and together the choirs sang “I Ask for One More Day,” with music by Jim Papoulis, lyrics by Claire Latimer, and accompanied by Choral Director Andrew Marshall on piano. Descants remained on stage to sing “Alleluia,” adapted from Canon in D with music by Johann Pachelbel, and “Love Medley,” a mashup of two songs: “Make Believe” from the musical Show Boat with music by Jerome Kern and “I Love You for Sentimental Reasons” by Pat Beth, showcasing soloist Sophia Selassie ’28.

The PAB concert series continued on Friday, May 24 featuring string ensemble and orchestra. 
Kensie Carroll '29, cello, and Gisele Francois-DeVane '29, bass, introduced the Lower School Orchestra who played the first movement of W. A. Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 23 in A major, featuring Eunha Basu ’28 as piano soloist. Upper School students Remy Kim ’25 and Shirley Yang ’27 joined the ensemble on flute and oboe, respectively. 

Emily Chen '29, violin, together with After-School Music Program faculty Val Becker on piano gave a moving performance of the first movement of Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor.  

In a break between performances, Head of Performing Arts Felicia Brady-Lopez addressed the musicians. “When I look back at the beginning of the year in September, my mind is blown. A lot of you took risks doing things you’ve never done before. These performances show your time and dedication and it takes guts to be vulnerable like that in front of anybody. Anybody who tried anything new this year, my hat is off to you.”

“We have traditionally closed our last PAB instrumental concert with a joint piece, and we’re happy to be playing ‘Siyahamba’ together today,” explained  Lillian Feng '29 and Sarah Kotler '30. Holding back laughter, they encouraged the audience to “try and notice any small changes we made to this traditional tune.” As Lower School Orchestra and Lower School String Ensemble took their seats, students were giggling and it soon became clear why, as strains of the ’80s pop ballad "Never Gonna Give You Up” filled the theater. Originally sung by Rick Astley, this version for orchestra was arranged by Julia Connor. “Rickrolling” or a “Rickroll” is an Internet phenomenon involving the unexpected appearance of the 1987 hit—and Lower School students certainly took the audience by surprise! 

PAB dance ensembles performed during the spring Dance Concert on May 23, read more.