Annual Big Assembly Day performing arts concert kindles festive spirit at all campuses

Performers+gather+on+stage+to+close+out+the+Big+Assembly+Day+show.+Upper+school+students+watched+Harker%E2%80%99s+annual+holiday+concert+Big+Assembly+Day+%28BAD%29+on+Dec.+9%2C+where+ensembles+from+the+lower%2C+middle+and+upper+schools+performed+various+acts+across+all+campuses.+

Alison Yang

Performers gather on stage to close out the Big Assembly Day show. Upper school students watched Harker’s annual holiday concert Big Assembly Day (BAD) on Dec. 9, where ensembles from the lower, middle and upper schools performed various acts across all campuses.

As the audience settles into the plush velvet of the Patil Theater seats, the orchestra crowded on stage awaits eagerly. A sea of middle and high school students — some in glittering gold dresses, others in green hoodies and a few more in Santa hats — fiddle with their instruments as the house lights dim. 

Blue and purple lights switch on, framing the performers in a hazy vignette. Performers raise instruments as the last stragglers in the audience sit. Crossing the front of the stage, Rohan Ramkumar (10) steps onto the block at the front of the stage. The last dregs of conversation are stamped out. His hand lifts, and with a flick, the orchestra explodes in sound. 

Upper school students watched Harker’s annual holiday concert Big Assembly Day (BAD) on Dec 9, where ensembles from the lower, middle and upper schools performed various acts across all campuses. Two performances were held at the upper school, the first for the underclassmen and the second for the upperclassmen. Performances started at the middle school and closed the day off at the lower school. 

The assembly opened with the upper school orchestra playing “Sleigh Ride,” an orchestral tradition for BAD. After the upbeat performance, fourth and fifth graders from the Bucknall choir sang “We Wish You a Swingin’ Holiday,” a parody of the famous Christmas carol, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Deeya Verma (10), a former member of Bucknall Choir, enjoyed looking back and reflecting on her previous performances in BAD.

Harker Dance Company member Selina Chen (11) lifts her hands in the air. HDC performed to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” with festive Santa hats. (Michelle Wei)

“I really like BAD because first, I’ve been watching it every year since Kindergarten, so it’s a nice way to reminisce,” Deeya said. “Also, it’s nice to look back at the ensembles I was once in and remember, ‘Oh, I was once performing like that group.’ It’s a nostalgic experience, and I love it.”

Seventh and eighth grade dance group Showstoppers followed with a contemporary dance to “No Ordinary” by Labrinth. The performers, dressed in magenta flowing dresses and shirts, stunned the audience with their various turns, lifts and kicks. 

Camerata, conducted by upper school vocal instructor Susan Nace, then sang “Come Joy and Singing.” They were joined by Bel Canto, conducted by upper school vocal instructor Jennifer Sandusky, to sing an Indian song called “Tarekita.” 

“Big assembly day is always crazy and exhausting, but it’s also very exciting,” co-instructor of Harmonics Katie Champlin said. “I always compare it to the Amazing Race, it’s exhilarating and a great opportunity for all of the performing arts groups to see each other on stage.”

Segments hosted by emcees from all three campuses interrupted the back-to-back performances every three acts or so. Decked out in holiday gear, they traded banter and introduced the upcoming acts. 

“The speeches [of the kids] were the best part of the show,” audience member Yash Sachdeva (9) said. “Seeing the [upperclassmen] get roasted was comical, and it allowed us to laugh instead of stressing [for finals].”

Cantilena then took the stage, bundled up in puffers and scarves, and performed “National Weather Forecast,” slowly removing their winter wear to reveal their standard long black dresses as they sang praises of the California climate. 

“Cantilena was [my favorite],” Downbeat member Isabella Ribeiro (11) said. “I liked the comedic aspect they added. [Their song], from a musical perspective, is also challenging. They pulled it off really well vocally and physically.”

Kinetic Krew, performing a mashup of “Last Christmas” and “Big Energy,” charmed alongside middle school group Harmonics’s informative “Latke Recipe.” 

I really like BAD because first, I’ve been watching it every year since Kindergarten, so it’s a nice way to reminisce. Also, it’s nice to look back at the ensembles I was once in and remember, ‘Oh, I was once performing like that group.’ It’s a nostalgic experience, and I love it.”

— Deeya Varma (10)

Harker Dance Company (HDC) followed with “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” impressing with their kickline, a holiday show staple. Penultimately, the middle school’s Dance Fusion performed “Stretchy Pants.” To close the show, Downbeat performed “Let it Snow.” Kinetic Krew, HDC, Dance Fusion and Downbeat also performed at Santana Row’s Spirit of the Row holiday show on Dec. 8. 

“[Putting BAD together] is definitely a lot of work,” Isabella said. “It’s still fun. The energy is really good, and [preparations] went pretty smooth this year.”

At the end of “Let it Snow,” most of Downbeat files off the stage, but a few members linger. The other emcees, donning latke sweaters, sparkly cardigans and holiday-themed blankets, join the remaining performers. Finishing their last remarks, the group piles in for one last selfie, naming the things they are grateful for. Downbeat member Jacob Hernandez (12) extends his hand and the festive ensemble cheeses. 

“Nintendo Switch!” Downbeat member Anthony Zhao (12) shouts, laughter and squabbling bursting out, curtains falling and lights brightening, to close the show.