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Notes from the Performing Arts Department, Fall 2023

Hello all,

Welcome to the fall 2023 issue of Notes from the Performing Arts Department, a bi-annual newsletter that brings you performing arts updates from across divisions. We are so excited to share all the wonderful things happening in our department!

Read below for highlights from the start of the school year and a look ahead at our performance schedule through February. 

Jackie Martino
Director of Performing Arts

Lower School

The beginning of the year is always a great time to get to know each other, connect and build community. In the Lower School music classroom, we do so by engaging in fun and interactive singing and movement games such as Follow the Leader and Chocolate, and doing call and response singing and playing during drum circles. Lower School students explore music in various ways to review, learn and reinforce concepts such as beat, tempo, dynamics, rhythmic patterns, match pitch, coordination and more. 

Our fifth grade woodwind and brass instrumental students continue to impress and inspire us with their progress. One particular area of growth we've noticed is in their ability to read rhythms and notes. Their increasing fluency in this domain is truly commendable.

Fifth grade strings are off and running learning the fundamentals of their instruments and scales, and are even playing some full songs already.

Middle School

In our Middle School Acting Improvisation class, students are learning to think on their feet and use their creativity to develop scenes! They'll be showcasing their talents at their upcoming performance on November 8.

Middle School Chorus is off to a great start! We have been learning a lot about what it means to use our voices together to make one big, glorious sound. We begin each class with a vocal warm up and a daily listening activity. We are having so much fun exploring different kinds of choral music, from "The Warm Up Song" by Mark Burrows, a three-part harmony song that incorporates vocal warm ups into a choral piece, to the Bobby Pickett classic, "Monster Mash," which we performed in the annual Middle School Halloween assembly!

Middle and Upper School Strings are busy practicing and rehearsing an exciting mix of repertoire for their December 12 concert, which will feature music by Vivaldi, Stevie Wonder, Jorge Vargas, Taylor Swift, Tchaikovsky and more!

In Middle and Upper School Winds and Brass, our focus has been on cultivating our ensemble sound — a unifying task that has seen our students grow not only as individual musicians but also as a cohesive group. The dedication in class has translated into a richer, more balanced sound, and it is great to see each student contributing to this collective harmony. We look forward to sharing our progress in January!

Upper School

It's been a blast in the Upper School Chorus so far! We started off the year getting to know everyone in the class as we learned what it means to be in a choir. We have been working collaboratively to develop techniques like choral blending, sight-singing, ear-training and vocal hygiene. In honor of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, we are reimagining iconic rap songs and remixing them into choral pieces, like Jay-Z’s "A Star is Born." We have also been exploring some Broadway classics by singing "Seasons of Love" from the Tony-award-winning musical, Rent, which we performed at the Book Fair on November 1! See recap video below.

The Upper School Strings ensemble will visit Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center on December 15 to participate in Music Up Close and interact with professional musicians in a live rehearsal setting.

Students in our jazz classes have already performed at our Homecoming pep rally and are looking forward to more performances throughout the year! 

We have started rehearsals for our fall productions of Real Inspector Hound and Artist Descending a Staircase, and we're excited to take the stage December 7-9! 

Our Playwriting II class took a field trip to the Drama Book Shop, a mainstay of the New York theater scene, to research some plays for inspiration!

Our After School Music program is busy every day with lessons in piano, voice, theory, woodwinds, guitar and strings! 

Chorus Performances at the Book Fair

Our 5th grade, Middle School and Upper School choruses performed at Barnes & Noble as part of Calhoun's annual Book Fair. 



Watch the highlight reel.

Upcoming Performing Arts Dates

We are thrilled to share with you our calendar of events so far through February 2024. We hope that you mark your calendars and attend as many performances as you can!

  • November 8, 6:30pm: Middle School Acting Improv performance 
  • November 17, 6pm: Calhoun Coffee House
  • December 7- 9: Upper School Fall Play, The Real Inspector Hound and Artist Descending a Staircase 
    • Evening shows at 7pm & Saturday matinee at 2pm

  • December 12, 5:30pm: Middle and Upper School Strings Concert
  • December 14, 7pm: Upper School Vocal Workshop and Chorus Concert 
  • January 18, 6:30pm: Middle School Chorus Concert
  • January 24, 6:30pm: Middle and Upper School Instrumental Concert 
  • February 1, 7pm: Upper School Jazz Concert