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Fine Arts Programs Prepares for Spring Performances
January 31st, 2017

Written by Golden Lines Staff Writer: Megan Mittelhammer ‘18

The St. Pius X Fine Arts department is in full-swing this spring with an exhibition, a musical and three concerts being held from the end of February through early April, providing many opportunities to witness what the students and faculty have been preparing.

The season kicks off with the Fine Arts Assembly on the morning of February 17, where a snippet of each program’s work is performed for the student body and faculty.

“Words can’t even describe how amazing the fine arts assembly is,” senior Ali Grijak said when asked about her excitement for the upcoming performances. “Our artists, dancers, and band members are extremely talented people who blow me away year after year.”

One of the more memorable performances from last year’s assembly was by the Music Tech class, with the help of Music Technology teacher Mr. Gerald McIntosh.

“Yes, there is pressure to top what we did last year as far as improving and changing what will be done,” said Mr. McIntosh. “Stay tuned! We are not trying to give up all our secrets…”

This year the brand new Music Technology Club will use “sounds and samples inspired by the Netflix show ‘Stranger Things.’ Our performance will be called 'The Upside Down,’” Mr. McIntosh added.

“The Music Tech performance got many people out of their seats, which shows you how good it was,” said junior Nina Burwell.

“Also lots of people were still talking about it afterwards, commenting on how great it was and really wanted to take the class afterwards. I also like how it was student performed,” she said.

Visual Arts
The next event in the Fine Arts lineup is the Juried Art Exhibition, which will be held on Friday, February 24 at 7:00 pm in the Young Center, Young Center Lobby and Fine Arts hallway. In this competition, art students enter their work into various categories, and two judges determine winners in those categories.

Art teacher Ms. Corinna Brannon highlighted some prominent AP students as well as some juniors.

“Some AP students whose work will be shown are Lauren Lyles, Olivia DeChante, and Elizabeth Fristoe. Juniors like Andrew Grey, who has been nominated for GHP (Governor’s Honors Program), Andrea Dominguez, and Emmie Barnhardt will also have some pieces featured,” Ms. Brannon said.

“This year, Danielle Brutto ‘14, will be judging the competition along with Cynthia Lolis, who is a professor at SCAD,” Ms. Brannon added.

Although the show is on a Friday night, Ms. Brannon still believes it’s important for as many students to come as possible.

“It’s a unique event in the school’s calendar and it's important to value the efforts of students who excel in visual arts,” Ms. Brannon stated. “Artwork gives the artists a voice when they don't have one and showcases their talents. The say a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Pius Players
The spring musical “Honk” takes flight soon after the Juried Arts show, with performances on March 9, 10, 11 and 12, with the first three shows premiering at 7:00 pm and Sunday’s matinee at 2:00 pm.

“Honk is the musical version of the ugly duckling, and it's a show that’s perfect for families,” musical director Ms. Bonnie Spark said. “There’s a lot of music in the show, more so than shows we have performed in the past. We have a cast of 40, including middle school and elementary school students, and some relatives of people who work here (grandchildren, children) playing froglets or ducklings,” she said.

Along with a large cast, many seniors play starring roles in the musical. “There are a lot of main roles, and that's why I picked [“Honk”] because there are a lot of parts. Katie Rose Borrello is the mother duck, Richard Guyton is Ugly and Nic Caseras is the daddy duck,” Ms. Spark said.

“The humor in the show is very funny,” she continued. “It won all kinds of awards, it’s a beautiful show, the music is great, and it’s really just so much fun. It's a family show; a family event. It’s for everybody, grandma to the young ones.”

Ms. Spark and the entire cast encourage everyone to come out to see the show despite their busy schedules.

“We have a good time and the kids work very hard,” Ms. Spark said. “The students here should be more connected with the fine arts and what we offer as part of a very top-notch education. They should see their friends and siblings demonstrate their creative talent. And most of all, it’s two hours of just plain fun!”

The dance program will hold their annual spring dance concert on March 24 and 25 at 7:00 pm and March 26 at 2 pm. Students in Dance I, II, III and Company will perform contemporary ballet on pointe, jazz, modern and jazz-funk pieces.

“The jazz-funk piece is choreographed by St. Pius alum Xavier Wilcher (‘07), dance teacher Mrs. Lisa O’Connor said.

“The songs that we use range according to the style of dance we perform,” Mrs. O’Connor added. “We have used songs from Meghan Trainor to Jennifer Lopez.”

Like other fine arts programs, Mrs. O’Connor emphasized the importance of student attendance at the spring concert.

“Our show is called ‘Art in Motion,’ and I chose that because each choreographer that came in has a completely different take on songs that are in the show. It’s an artistic expression of several different songs,” she said.

“The girls have also been working since August on their technique, and we started choreography in the fall,” she added. “You’re able to see their passion and excitement for doing something they love on a school day.”

Just as enthusiastic about their upcoming performances is the band. Not only are both symphonic and jazz bands performing in the Fine Arts Assembly, but the symphonic band is also competing in the LGPE, or “Large Group Performance Evaluation,” as well as their annual band concert in early spring.

During the Fine Arts Assembly, “the jazz band is looking to perform a piece by the band by Chicago called “25 or 6 to 4.” There are also a few solos on tap for the jazz band too,” assistant band director Mr. Ian LaBreck said.

“The symphonic band will play fun music, something for everybody and that everyone can enjoy. Last year we performed music from ‘The Incredibles,’ and we also did ‘Amazing Grace,’ so expect something kind of like that,” he added.

In between the assembly and preparation for their spring concert, the band will compete in the annual LGPE sponsored by the Georgia Music Educators Association.

“They’ll be evaluated with a set of judges,” Mr. LaBreck stated, “but we already have pieces for LGPE figured out. We’re playing this piece called ‘Dancing in Air’ by Yo Goto and another really pretty piece called ‘The Seal Lullaby’ by Eric Whitacre.”

What Mr. LaBreck said the band is most excited about, however, is a piece of music being commissioned for them by a special artist for their spring concert.

“Paige Hamilton, from the band Helmet, is writing a piece for our band and we’re performing that in the spring concert. And he’ll kind of be here that whole week in residency to make sure everything is sounding good and running smoothly. We started rehearsing the first week of school and we’ll play all that stuff until the end of March, when our concert is,” Mr. LaBreck said.

After the band concert is the combined guitar and choir concert on April 20. Featuring advanced guitarists and the women's ensemble, the concert is “much more involved than the Christmas concert,” said fine arts department chair and guitar teacher Mr. Brion Kennedy.

“For the Christmas concert, the students sit and read music, however for the spring concert, the students are expected to move around and entertain the audience. Stylistically, there's more pop and rock involved in the spring concert, so it is different in that regard as well,” Mr. Kennedy said. .

Both guitar and concert choir students enjoy performing their individual pieces, and Mr. Kennedy hopes that the shows can expand in upcoming years.

“It is a pleasure to work with [the women’s ensemble], but it's difficult for the guitarists because we have to cut the set down in order to keep performance time equal between the groups. Hopefully in the future choir and guitar will have their own concerts. Ms. Turek is fabulous and I have no doubt this will happen,” Mr. Kennedy stated.

No matter which concert or performance you attend, or if you attend them all, you can be sure that the fine arts department will not disappoint with their fresh and fun pieces perfect for all audiences.

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