By Gil Alon
Many students at Newton South are incredibly talented and yet are not able to perform at many school wide events. “Happy Birthday Mozart: A Night of Eclectic Entertainment” is shining a spotlight onto many student led groups that are usually cast out of the light.
The concert involves many different types of musical performances, including Plaid Step Dad, an indie-rock group; Wes Silver Experience, a jazz ensemble; and Old News, an American standards crew; as well as a special performance from Zamaana, Newton South’s South Asian Student Association dance group.
Organized by Euphonic, the concert began with the simple desire to show off the work the group was doing and wanting to share that opportunity of stage time with other performing groups.
“Euphonic [was] looking to find an opportunity to put on a concert and we wanted to share the stage with some other music groups at South” Juliet Cable, Vice President of Euphonic, said. “We wanted to bring attention to some of the really awesome things people are doing that aren’t necessarily getting all of the notoriety that they should be.”
These other groups grabbed the opportunity to perform since many are looking for a chance to showcase their work. The students in these groups desire to perform is the reason for many students running showcases outside of school as well.
“I think there is that same intention behind the Mozart concert,” junior and instrumentalist Sam Marks said. “I think more than anything, people just want to be able to perform and show people what they are doing– along with that it is just fun to do. It is fun to perform with a band and get up on stage and play music.”
Even more beneficial than the simply desire to perform, these events have the capacity to encourage more students to begin to perform, especially when many of these bands and dance groups often do not during normal school allocated time for performances.
All students interviewed expressed support for the school-run talent show, Tertulia, but some of the students hoped for an expansion of performance opportunities. Passing Time, with its limited twenty minutes, is too short a time to justify an entire band to set up with a drum set and a microphone, for example. In addition, it is difficult to showcase dance groups in crowded hallways.
“We like the fact that we are given the opportunity to perform at Asia Night and at Tertulia, except it would be nice if we had some other [times] that we could show what we do because [we are] a culture group for a minority population at our school,” Zaamana’s Artistic Director Rhea Dudani said. “[With more performances], the minority would then feel that people want to celebrate them.”
The difficulty for students to perform at school leaves little opportunity for a majority of students to see and celebrate different performances. When groups like Zamaana that celebrate a specific minority are not given opportunities to perform, their peers are missing out learning and appreciating the cultural differences of their peers.
That is the reason concerts like “Happy Birthday Mozart” are important for students to learn about the variety of talent that their peers hold.
However, Cable sympathized with South, citing that many of these groups are not affiliated with South and thus the school is left in an unclear position as to what extent the school should support these groups.
“It’s kind of difficult since many of the clubs performing are not officially South affiliated,” Cable said. “A lot of the time, South has Tertulia, which is a really awesome place for people to show off what they are doing. Otherwise groups are kind of on their own to figure out how they want to show their work, if they want to showcase their work. South does a lot to support learning about the arts and different activities in general.”
Setting aside an entire day for just the celebration of music and the arts offers an ideal time for students to perform. However, other students like Dudani would want, in addition, a more relaxed performance time for all students to try and get up on stage.
“I think if South offers specific showcases for specific categories [of] different types of art,” Dudani said, “then it would encourage more performances. It would be more inclusive and give all these other smaller groups an outlet and platform to performance [and students] who participate in these [activities] after school will come up and [perform].”
These showcases could encourage an accepting environment for students to perform. In addition, bringing students whose activities occur outside of school will display even more unique activities that south students excel in.
However, Marks cites that the school could do more, but the community of students around South is solving the problem.
“South could probably do more, but the community provides a pretty sufficient opportunities for these groups to perform,” Marks said. “There’s not a whole lot that the school can do. If there is that demand then the community can host events. Having the school administration do something is a little far fetched.”
Outside school concerts like Tea Barn are prime examples of students coming together to celebrate music. The conjunction of school and community and the rise of concerts like “Happy Birthday Mozart” breeds an atmosphere that produces the great musicians that Newton South has.
“Happy Birthday Mozart” should be the first of multiple concerts started by student groups that celebrate all student artists. Giving different groups a stage to perform not only celebrates the excellence of all students but also allows the school to value the incredible talent of its students.
“I hope that people start really valuing the sheer talent that we students at this school have,” Cable said. “There are so many people at South who are doing amazing things and who are super talented and super awesome who work super hard and sometimes who you don’t even know about. Hopefully people leave with an appreciation for the people they go to school with and the amazing work that they are doing.”
The concert will take place in the South auditorium on January 27th at 7 pm. Tickets are $5 at the door.