In San Francisco, Music and Dance Departments Collaborate on Trip

Just before starting a performance at the Mission Dolores Basilica, a church in San Francisco, Calif., Charles Stacy ’16, a singer in The Fidelio Society, realized that he had forgotten his button-up shirt at the hotel. Stacy was forced to scavenge through the lost and found and ended up wearing an old chef’s shirt to the concert, as he described to The Phillipian.

This performance was one of three that the Academy Orchestra, Andover Dance Group (ADG), and Fidelio showcased on a five-day tour of the San Francisco area during Spring Vacation. This was the first tour resulting from a collaboration between the Music and Dance departments.

“We’ve never actually partnered with the dance department before, but it’s something that we always wanted to do. There were a lot more moving parts since we had dancers, we had singers, we had musicians… The music [for Appalachian Spring] is very difficult. The choreography is very difficult. And to see high school kids doing it with so much nuance and understanding was really kind of mind-boggling,” said Holly Barnes, Director of Performance.

The largest show on the tour was the first performance, which took place at Stanford University. The Andover students performed “Appalachian Spring”, a dance choreographed by Judith Wombwell, Instructor and Chair in Theater and Dance, that is set to music by Aaron Copland, as well as three other shorter dance pieces. Additionally, the orchestra partnered with the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, a local public student orchestra, to play “La Casa del Diavolo,” by Luigi Boccherini.

“I think from an overall show perspective, the Stanford performance went better [than our other performances], because we were in an actual theater and it felt more professional. We were doing a performance very similar to one that we would be doing at Andover, so I guess I felt more like I was really there performing as a performer on stage,” said Lizzie McGonagle ’16, Co-Captain of ADG.

To prepare for their performances, the students practiced for three hours every day on tour. The tour also gave students opportunities to explore San Francisco, including excursions to places like Muir Woods, the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, and Fisherman’s Wharf.

“Well San Francisco’s a fantastic city, and I never really spent a whole lot of time there, so I think it was just being able to turn your head and ‘Oh there’s some colorful piece of art that’s just there, like a mural.’ I think that’s what made San Francisco such an exciting place; you can’t not have fun given free reign,” said Erica Nork ’16, Co-Captain of ADG.

The tour ended with a show at Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek, California. Taking place in the school’s wrestling room, the performance was less formal than the one at Stanford.

“We were in a gym that was maroon and gold, and ‘Appalachian Spring’ was all pastel colors, so we kind of clashed with our surroundings. But then once the dancers started, they were just transcendent. You just really felt like you were in this incredibly beautiful world, and they really understood the piece. The musicians played so well, and the dancers danced so well. I always talk about theater being, you want to create magic and you want to take the audience somewhere else and make them forget where they are, and that happened in a high school gym. It was really unbelievable,” said Wombwell.