Spring Concerts at MHS

Meiling Mathur, Staff Writer

It has been over a year since the start of the pandemic, and this spring is shaping up to look very different from that of 2020. As people get vaccinated, there will be more flexibility in what types of activities in which people can safely participate. Though the pandemic is far from over, more opportunities are becoming available, providing MHS students with some sense of normalcy as they navigate the final weeks of the school year. 

MHS’s music ensembles in particular are gearing up to run in-person concerts this spring. For orchestra, students will be performing at the Arts Center with separate concerts for each orchestra (opposed to previous years when all orchestras would perform on the same night). Only one or two audience members will be allowed per student, but all concerts will be livestreamed online. Masks will be required, and players will be seated facing forward six feet apart.

Sarah Finn-Sommerfeld teaches and conducts four of MHS’s orchestra ensembles.

I am very excited for us to have concerts this spring,” she said. “I am so happy that our senior class will have an opportunity to perform at least once this year” and that “students [will] be able to make music together again in general.”

“Live music and performance is so much different than rehearsing and recording,” Finn-Sommerfeld said, “the element of excitement that comes from performing in front of an audience is what can make a performance even better.” 

Since the beginning of the year, orchestra classes have been learning new music online, but it’s “not the same as a large group rehearsal” where the students can hear each other. 

“It is very much like a sport,” Finn-Sommerfeld said. “Drilling specific skills alone is great, but playing all together on the field is a totally different experience.”

“From what I know so far, it seems like a good idea,” April Wang, ‘23, a violinist in Chamber Orchestra, said. “It gives the students a goal to work for and an opportunity to show the results of their work.” 

Her “biggest concern is over safety”, but she thinks that “the teachers…have thought [the safety protocols] out pretty well.” 

Wang also commended the fact that “concerts will be broadcasted online and students aren’t required to perform if they aren’t comfortable with being in-person.”

Eli Hansen, ‘23, a violinist in Chamber Orchestra, shared his thoughts on having in-person concerts. 

“It would be nice to have a concert because of all the work we put in getting ready for it,” he said, “but it also adds a decent amount of pressure that we didn’t have before when we didn’t know we’d be having a concert.” 

Hansen mentioned the possibility of getting COVID, but said that it’s “not too big of a concern.” Still, a major upside of having a concert this year is that, according to Hansen, “we get to show off our hard work” after months of preparation. There’ll be “no more pestering from friends and family for private concerts, [and] we get to move on and explore new music afterwards.” 

Like the orchestra classes, the band ensembles will also be having in-person concerts with social distancing, masks, limited audience, and live-streaming. 

Axel Martin, ‘23, a percussionist in Symphonic Band, will be performing in-person. 

Martin said they are excited to “[have] a concert to begin with,” as they haven’t performed live since her marching band concert in September. 

Despite their excitement, Martin also said, “I guess [I’m concerned about] the audience not following rules, like people not wearing masks.”

Still, they feel pretty safe onstage.

 “I’m the back, so no one’s blowing their sound at me,” Martin said.

Jerry Zhang, ‘23, another percussionist in Symphonic Band, offered his opinions on the concerts. 

“Personally, I think it’s fine as long as social distancing protocols are followed because it’s a one-time deal, similar to the preACT and MCAs,” he said. “As an e-learning student, I haven’t really had the opportunity to actually play with the rest of the band.” 

Zhang hasn’t decided if he will be performing in-person yet, but looks forward to seeing his friends if he does. 

“For percussion specifically, it would be nice to actually play the timpani and bass drum, like all the instruments that I don’t have at home,” he said.

Chloe McLaren, ‘23, an Alto in Treble Choir, said that “[Choir] is planning on having a spring concert, [but] we just don’t know what it will look like yet.” 

While Choir’s concert plans haven’t been finalized, McLaren says that she’s looking forward to “finally getting to sing for other people.” 

“We’re still working on songs from the beginning of the year to perform, so it’ll be nice to finally display that,” she said.

  As for her personal concerns about holding a concert, McLaren said, “I’d be concerned about people not being able to hear us if they were too far away.”

“I’d also be concerned about the audience social distancing, and potential seating. Other than that, I think [a concert] would be cool,” she said. 

In short, several of MHS’ music students are looking forward to performing for an audience again. It’s been a long year of virtual concerts and online rehearsals, but it seems like this spring will allow them to finally share music with the community again.

The music teachers and the school staff are working very hard to put together a safe experience for all involved,” said Finn-Sommerfeld. “I am so happy to be able to share the music with families again in a safe way.”

MHS concert dates and times can be found on the District’s online calendar.