by Charlotte Force
The Semi-Annual, as always, was resplendent this year - the Concert was great, and the show, as always, was impressive. As an art major, I’m always amazed at the vocal and instrumental talent at this school; honestly, it’s borderline ethereal. The pleasant surprise, nevertheless, is the consistent excellence of the art shows. Even as a junior art major, with almost three years of studios under my belt, I’m in awe of all of the art displayed.
The Art Show
The main thing that distinguishes the senior art shows from the Semi-Annual is the sheer diversity of the work in the school-wide exhibit. Whereas seniors collaborate collectively to contribute and curate their shows, teachers in the art department must create a show that flows throughout the entire art department. From ceramics, to printmaking, to painting, to architecture, the show displays the array of classes and how truly lucky we are to go to this school.
The art show is a great place to discover the classes we have at LaGuardia and familiarize yourself with what our school has to offer. I came to LaGuardia loving pencil drawing, with the occasional pen and ink. However, after seeing the gorgeous collection of oil paintings displayed at the Semi-Annual, I decided to concentrate on painting when choosing my electives. The Semi-Annual shows both the lofty goals of artistry and the accessibility of excellent art.
Like I said - my current artistic leaning is painting. The Semi-Annual did not fail to impress - in the 2nd floor gallery, I was especially floored by a painting of Eunice Ng’s in the far corner - as I turned around to see it, I immediately recognized the subject at “Beatrice from the 9th period art class”. That’s the kind of connection the average person doesn’t feel in a museum, but at LaGuardia, the artist, subject, and viewer are often connected. What struck me about the painting was not only the striking resemblance, but the gorgeous brush technique Eunice - who I also know, from 8th period Japanese - used to represent Beatrice and the roses in the background.
Another stroke of recognition came from the panel on the 2nd floor gallery - a panel of my watercolour class’ work. Seeing a familiar face in the crowd is a decently common feeling, but a familiar painting in a show is another thing altogether. The painting in the middle of the panel, of three poppies grounded in a bright blue sky, was painted by my friend Rowen Ghanem, sitting right next to me for the entire semester. I didn’t make the painting, but I saw it come to life. I could say the same about most of those paintings on the panel, but not of paintings in general, and that connection is priceless.
The best feeling, however, is falling in love with a piece, and then realizing that it was created by someone you know - I saw a sculpture of an animal skull and immediately thought it was amazing, but upon closer examination of the label, I realized that it had been created by someone I’ve known since Sophomore year, Afi Goncalves.
All in all, I loved the Semi-Annual - finding paintings by people you don’t know, but have passed in the hall; seeing paintings that inspire you in your own classes; learning from your classmates without even meeting them - that’s the true spirit of the show.
The main thing I remember from the concert is standing ovations - it was incredible. The performance was split into two parts - the first, before intermission, featured the LaGuardia Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Washington; the second featured the LaGuardia Senior Chorus, conducted by Ms. Ballard, and accompanied on some songs by members of the orchestra.
For the first part of the show, the orchestra performed a symphony by Anton Bruckner, an Austrian composer of the 18th century - “Symphony No. 6 in A Major”. A sixth symphony in A Major - that’s all you get from the title, which granted, does not evoke much emotion, but I was bowled over by the performance. Playing in an orchestra is an art unto itself - you have to be in tune, not only note-wise, but to the people around you and the conductor. The orchestra rose to the challenge beautifully and played as a complete being, the cellos and violas wind under the violin’s wings, and the winds echoing and fluttering like a heart.
Seeing an orchestra perform is like witnessing magic - at the flick of the conductor’s magical wand, the musicians cast a spell of harmony and grace. It’s too beautiful to articulate without sounding pretentious; it really just is that incredible.
The level of LaGuardia students is something to be in awe of. As I listened to the orchestra, I looked around the stage and saw familiar faces. Instead of carrying books, my classmates and friends carried tunes, and I was in awe.
The performance ended with resounding applause for the lead musicians - then doubled in enthusiasm and the whole orchestra took a bow.
After intermission, Senior Chorus filed in, decked out in suits, ties, and elegant black gowns, and wowed the audience with their talent. A diverse range of music was represented -
The first song was “Sanctus and Benedictus” from Missa Brevis, by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, a 16th century Italian composer. The song was in Latin - a dead language, yes, but alive in the song. What’s fun about choral performances is the collective harmony of the music, and in this song it was interesting to hear the whoosh of the melody.
Second came the song “Os justi” by Anton Bruckner, making a reappearance after his successful orchestral representation. Then came “The Lamb”, a poem by William Blake, put to music by John Tavener. The sounds of the latter song were gorgeous - although the words were in English, it was performed with careful attention to the beauty of individual syllables. Words were pronounced differently, simply for the sake of making an even more beautiful sound.
Arguably the most popular performance was “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord”, arranged by Moses Hogan, which was met with a roaring, clapping, whooping, standing ovation. Ms. Ballard conducted an emotional, swinging, raw performance - the basses bellowed and sopranos trembled with a beautiful power that everyone in the audience felt.
After the round of applause, members of the orchestra set up in front of the chorus, and together they performed “Cantata BMV 150”, by Johann Sebastian Bach, an 18th century composer. In the seven passages of the Cantata, four senior vocal majors performed gorgeous solos with the orchestral accompaniment. On Friday, January 9th, when I went, Sophia Hunt, Frank Auletti, Abagael Cheng, and my friend Lukas Jenkins performed. In the Saturday performance, Ezra Mutnick and Dylan Forgione also had solos. The four that I saw perform sang beautifully - they made a great quartet, the combination of their voices creating a gorgeous, rich sound.
The last song of the evening was “Gloria” from Magnificat, in D Major, BWV 243 by Johann Sebastian Bach. Along with all of the artists, both musical and visual, “Gloria” was truly glorious.