‘There was a real buzz and excitement in the air’: Winter Concert returns to Archer

The+upper+school+choir+is+pictured+singing+together+for+the+first+time+in+two+years+during+a+live+performance.+The+upper+school+choir+was+just+one+of+the+performers+during+the+winter+concert.

Photo credit: Maya Kakani

The upper school choir sings together for the first time in two years during a live performance. The upper school choir was just one of the performers during the winter concert.

By Rose Sarner, Culture Editor

Beautiful rhythms, synchronized melodies and the elegant strumming of strings came together on Jan. 20, 21 and 22, during the Winter Concert. The middle and upper school orchestra, choir and a capella all came together to perform in the concert. Their music selection came from a variety of pop songs like, Billie Ellish’s “Ocean Eyes,” to music composed by their fellow musicians like, Camila Blank.

“There’s a very strong community and team spirit in Archer musical programs. I am performing in choir and orchestra, and I almost feel like during the time we were online, I forgot how to listen to a group of people making music and synchronize myself with them,” junior Lucy Brodsky said. “Now that we’re back in-person, that skill is coming back and it just feels like the whole group is working together to make a beautiful sound.”

 “[When] doing music on Zoom … you don’t get that sense of the community and playing together and hearing harmonies and having that experience. There was a real buzz and excitement in the air.””

— Susan Smith, Orchestra Director

Over the last two years during remote learning, the middle and upper school choir and a capella recorded themselves singing individually and then edited all of their voices together for major performances. This year marks the first time all of the singers can perform together in two years.   

“Zoom was a sort of isolated way of doing choir … now that we’re back in-person, you can hear all of the parts melded together,” Grace DeLossa, a choir and a capella member said. “You can sing together and feed off of each other’s energy, and it’s so much better. It’s what choir is meant to be.” 

Due to the surge in COVID-19 cases over winter break, and Archer’s announcement to have remote learning during the week of Jan. 3, the concert was postponed until Jan. 20. Once the musicians and singers arrived back on campus, it had been almost a month since they had all rehearsed together in person.   

“It’s definitely a blessing and not in disguise. We needed the time to get back together and work on all of our pieces together,” DeLossa said. “Because we were virtual for the first week back at school, that really wouldn’t have allowed us to be able to get to the place we are with all of our music.”

This is the first year that the concert has taken place in the amphitheater rather than in the dining hall. The amphitheater was transformed into an outdoor theater, with extensive lighting and speakers, as well as a stage.

“I’m so glad that the arts department, the music department and administration allowed us to push the concert back a little bit, because I think the concert was much better because we were able to push the concert,” Brodsky said. “It’s much more put together and we had the time to really rehearse and get back into a synchronous space where we’re a group instead of a bunch of individuals.”

Both upper and middle school orchestra is led by Orchestra Director, Susan Smith, and Arts Department Chair and teacher of the music styles and composition class, Hannah O’Connor. They began working with the orchestra in September to start rehearsing their repertoire. Both middle and upper school orchestra practice during FLX Block and after school. Two weeks prior to their actual performance, practice times increased to everyday, even during the week of remote learning.

“This [performance] really reinforced the power of music and how it brings people together, and I feel so grateful to be able to do this and to be able to be back in-person,” Smith said. “I just feel like as a music department, we have been re-energized because we got to have this experience and remember, this is amazing, this is so fulfilling.”