On Monday 24 October, 45 of our Whitefriars students from Years 7 – 11 combined with an equal number of students from Siena College in the inaugural Concert Project – a new, immersive musical and dramatic workshop experience devised by the Performing Arts team for 2022.
This was an opportunity that placed learning at the centre of the musical and dramatic process, providing an opportunity to reignite bonds and forge new connections, friendships and praetorships through the social bonds rehearsal and performance towards a shared goal.
Students selected one of five offerings on the day, auditioning for select roles and parts. Options included a combined Concert Band of thirty students, a Stage Band where students learned and put together a jazz chart from scratch, a Play in a Day experience where budding actors blocked and presented Tom Stoppard’s Fifteen Minute Hamlet, a Vocal Ensemble where students learned and blocked a musical number and the Technical Crew which gave students the opportunity to set up, design and execute the audio, lighting and sound for the final concert presentation.
It was an intensive day with students working over three extended sessions to learn, develop and refine their performances ready to showcase that evening. Throughout the day I was consistently struck by the resilience of the young people I was working with, highlighted through their willingness to learn, to try and fail and in doing so demonstrating a keen ability to adapt and take on each new challenge.
As the day progressed it was wonderful to see the shared moments of connection, as students from both schools conversed during break times, congregated around the piano to sing and play or showed off their skills in performing lyrics from Hamilton. With the past few years limiting opportunities for school communities to connect with each other, this was a special moment for students, staff and parents alike.
The day culminated in a presentation of the students efforts for parents, friends and family. This was a true authentic learning experience for the students as they navigated the opportunities and challenges of such an intensive process with great aplomb and professionalism. I was truly blown away by the resilience and ability of our young people to perform works that a mere six hours previously they had not even seen. It was a wonderful experience both onstage and in the audience, with a great appreciation for all students’ skills and achievements.
An enormous thank you to our tireless Performing Arts staff who gave up their time and shared their expertise with students: Mr Nicholas Fitter, Mr Matthew Balassone, Ms Claire Benne, Mr Michael Schofield and Ms Nathalie Fox. Special thanks also to Sandra Kennedy for ticket booking, administration and catering as well as Kerryn McGillen and wonderful staff of Siena College for their support in championing the event to their students and supervising on the day. A final thank you to Mr Mark Murphy and Ms Catherine Spurritt for their tireless support and to the wonderful parents and school community members who came along to support the event.
This year has been a one of great opportunity for our students in the musical and dramatic arts, and has reinforced the important cognitive, social and emotional benefits of performing arts in students’ holistic education. Our sincere thanks to all of you who have supported our students endeavours this year, parents, friends, staff and the wider community as they have brought the spark of creativity back into the College in 2022.
Mr Matthew Frampton
Learning Leader – Performing Arts