Fall Quadchella invites students, faculty to watch performances through informal talent show

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Nathaniel “Nash” Melisso (12) strums the ukulele as he performs his original song “Insight” during the fall Quadchella on Nov. 7. This Quadchella contained a total of four teacher acts and six student acts, along with face painting, popcorn, and tattoos on the side.

by Sriya Batchu, Reporter

Harker’s biannual Quadchella talent show invited students and faculty to watch an array of performances in the quad during long lunch on Nov. 7. This Quadchella contained a total of four teacher acts and six student acts. Face painting provided by the art club along with popcorn and tattoos were available for the student body to enjoy. Rugs were placed on the ground and background music played both before and after the show.

This event took place two days after threatening graffiti was found in a bathroom, which caused an uneasy tension within the student body, but Dean of Students Kevin Williamson and Upper School Division Head Butch Keller both were confident of the students’ safety and let the event continue.

“I was worried about Quadchella at first, but now I’m looking forward to bringing back a sense of normalcy to campus,” said Arusha Patil (11), Head of the Student Events Committee, prior to the show.

Michael Eng

This year’s Quadchella was led by Arusha. She, along with Roma Gandhi (12) and Gabriel Chai (12), was responsible for organizing the timeline, setting up the quad and reaching out to other clubs and the student body.

The show started off with first-time Quadchella performer Dr. Julie Turchin, an upper school psychology teacher, who sang “The Babysitter’s Here” by Dar Williams. Dr. Turchin started performing in choirs when she was 10 and has performed a variety of genres her whole life, including singing folk music at her college coffee house.

I told myself I would do it this time. I’m glad I stayed true to that promise because it felt great performing up there.”

— Dr. Julie Turchin

“I saw Quadchella last year and I almost did it in the spring, but I thought it would have been too much to do during my first year, so I told myself I would do it this time. I’m glad I stayed true to that promise because it felt great performing up there,”  Dr. Turchin said.

Following Dr. Turchin was the first student act, performed by Mahika Halepete (12) who sang Billy Joel’s “Vienna” while providing her own piano accompaniment. She has played the piano since she was four and started vocal lessons when she was eight. This is her second time performing at Quadchella but her first time performing solo.

“I found it a little scary at first, but I perform a lot so I get used to it. Music is a really good way for me to get some stress relief and chill out a little bit and get creative,” Mahika said.

Following Mahika was an original stand-up comedy routine by junior Ajay Madala, who has performed stand-up in the last four Quadchellas. His love for comedy stemmed from watching John Stewart on Comedy Central.

“Whenever I was bored in seventh grade, I watched John Stewart, which caused my love for comedy, and so I wanted to share that with the student body,” Ajay said.

Ajay’s comedy act was followed by first-time Quadchella performer senior Kismet Singh’s rendition of the Animals’ “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” on the piano. Kismet has been singing since she was a little girl. 

“It is an emotive experience for me. Me and my best friend sing a lot even when we probably shouldn’t be, but it’s just one of those things that I just can’t help doing. It’s something that’s always come naturally to me,” Kismet said.

Following Kismet were upper school English teacher Christopher Hurshman and Director of Learning, Innovation and Design Diane Main. The pair have done Quadchella together every year since it started at Harker. This year, they played “Falling Slowly” from the movie “Once” and Damien Rice’s “Nine Crimes.” 

Singing has been a part of Main’s life since she was a child, and she enjoys singing and learning new songs immensely. Hurshman is the faculty advisor for the Unplugged guitar club and enjoys playing the guitar in his free time to destress. 

“It’s fun to sing together and perform. I like to see and learn about the things that students do outside of class, and I think this is a way to return the favor and share a part of our lives that don’t always show up at school,” Hurshman said.

For his third Quadchella, senior Nathaniel “Nash” Melisso wrote and performed an original piece, “Insight,” on his ukelele. During his junior year, Nash wrote many original songs for his Soundcloud persona, lil strype.

“Songwriting is great because I can just let my thoughts and emotions flow out. I might be done as lil strype, but that doesn’t mean I’m done making music,” Nash said.

After Nash was Dr. Elizabeth Wahl performing at her third Quadchella, singing George Gershwin’s “I Got Plenty o’Nuttin.” She has been taking voice lessons for three years now and sings with the Stanford Symphonic Chorus.

“My kids used to joke that I had a song for every occasion, and I did. I came up with their own special lullabies and I was always singing, so I thought once I had a little more time I would treat myself to voice lessons,” Dr. Wahl said.

Following Dr. Wahl was freshman Nupur Gupta with the performance’s only dancing act. Nupur, who has been dancing since second grade, danced to a Japanese song with a mixture of salsa and hip-hop.

“It’s a lot of pressure to perform in front of the entire student body, but I’m really excited to share my passion and I’m confident that I’ll do great,” Nupur said prior to the performance.

The second to last act was performed by K-12 Production Manager Brian Larsen, who sang “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen. Mr. Larsen has been singing and playing the guitar for thirty-five years now. Along with performing, Larsen was a main part of the technical crew at Quadchella.

“I don’t have a lot of places in my life where I have the opportunity to get up and perform so it’s nice to have something like this to look forward to and to rehearse for,” Larsen said.

The last act of the day was a song performed by freshman Sonya He. This was Sonya’s first time performing at the high school, but she has performed before at Coffee House, the middle school’s informal talent show for singers and instrument players.

“This was very different from Coffee House, but I decided to take a leap of faith and go for it. The support I get from my friends and the crowd keeps me going,” Sonya said.