Annual Winter Concert promotes inclusion,’ ’empowerment’ among performers


Photo credit: Molly Goldberg

Upper school orchestra prepares to perform the piece “Classical Symphony” by composer Sergei Prokofiev. The choir, a cappella, and orchestra ensembles previewed the concert for all of the upper school on Jan.15.

The lights dim, the audience goes quiet and the middle school choir files onto the risers. Illuminated by bright spotlights, they look to their conductor for the cue. Then they begin singing, and the harmonies of “Lost Boy” echo throughout the dining hall.

This was the scene in the Zeller Student Center on Jan. 17 and 18. After the choir performance, other orchestra, choir and a cappella groups performed pieces they worked on throughout first semester. The previews took place on Jan. 15 and 16 and give both students and faculty a small glimpse into the performances that were yet to come.

The full concert consisted of students from both the middle and upper school, performing various pieces from different musical eras. The upper school orchestra ensemble performed a piece entitled “Tico Tico” by composer Zequinha de Abréu that was originally released in 1969, while the upper school choir ensemble fast-forwarded to the 2000s to perform “Put Your Records On,” by artist Corinne Bailey Rae.

Furthermore, with the addition of the new middle school a cappella group, The Middle C’s, another recent pop song was added to the setlist. The ensemble performed “Stitches,” by artist Shawn Mendes.

For this year’s finale, all of the musicians came together to perform the song “Nina Cried Power” by the artist Hozier.

“I’m most looking forward to the finale because it’s usually songs that the audience knows,” senior and orchestra member Hannah Kim said. “At least in orchestra, we usually play classical music, but the finale is more accessible to all audiences.”

Looking back on her six years participating in the upper school orchestra ensemble, Kim recalls the “fun” and “exciting” experiences where she was able to interact with both middle and upper school students during the week of the performances.

This year’s song selection emphasizes a sense of “inclusion” and “diversity,” sophomore Emily Cadenas said. Cadenas felt “empowered” by the song selections for both the choir and a cappella groups. The upper school a cappella group, The Unaccompanied Minors, performed a feminist anthem within their setlist entitled “Sit Still, Look Pretty” by artist Daya.

“It’s a big job to encapsulate that feeling of anger, but also using that for good and to empower others,” Cadenas said.

Hannah O’Connor, Archer’s new upper and middle school choral instructor, gave Cadenas the opportunity to perform a solo within this song. Cadenas emphasized how “excited” she was to showcase her skills for this concert.

“I’m really excited to be doing this with Ms. O’Connor for the first time,” Smith said. “We’ve been working really well together.”

Cadenas, both an a cappella and choir member, credits O’Connor for her recent successes and growth as a singer.

“I’ve definitely learned so much,” Cadenas said. “She pushes every one of us to have our own personal goals, and she really helps us maintain them.”

Upper and middle school orchestra director Susan Smith emphasized the diversity represented in the song selection.

“Although we don’t have an actual theme for this concert, we have a really wonderful variety and eclectic amount of music that we’re doing,” she said.