The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

United Voices resonates inspiration and connection

Backstage, a twelfth grade performer adjusts the crooked collar of his seventh grade companion. A fourth grade student weaves her way through Rothschild Performing Arts Center, waving at the older students she encounters while passing through the halls. High schoolers visit the middle school green room, introducing themselves to the younger performers. 

Harker’s annual United Voices concert featured the talents of upper, middle and lower school choirs on March 1. 

From mainstream pop hits to 19th century classical compositions, student choral groups each performed pieces before singing as a unified group.

The lower school Concert Choir opened the show with their performance to “Everlasting Melody” by Rollo Dilworth. Singing with smiles on their faces, they beckoned the audience to join in and clap to the beat.

Middle school choral group Harmonics wave their arms and stomp their feet as they perform their spirited rendition of “Sing.” Their colorful bows and bowties and broad smiles filled Patil Theater with energy. (Eva Cheng)

Three senior Conservatory members from different upper school choirs gave speeches on the program’s impact on their lives.

Sonya Apsey (12) spoke first right after Concert Choir’s performance, recounting her first experience joining Cantilena in ninth grade. Despite being initially intimidated by her peers’ talent, Sonya was met with encouragement which allowed her to build self-confidence. She said her choir’s camaraderie inspired her to give back to her community through mentoring young actors.

“While I plan to be pursuing international relations as my major in college, I am absolutely planning to seek out the loving community of performing artists in college,” Sonya said. “I hope to continue to balance my academic pursuit with the creative energy of performing arts.

Middle school choir Dynamics took the stage next, accompanying their humorous interpretation of “Whisper” by Greg Gilpin with animated gestures that left the audience laughing. Following them was Harmonics, who performed “Sing,” arranged by Mark Brymer, in colorful bows and bowties. The middle school Concert Choir then sang “El Vito” by Emily Crocker, a traditional Spanish folk song.

Downbeat member Shayla He (12) sings “Jupiter: Every Day I Listen To My Heart,” a Japanese song by Ayaka Hirahara. The upper school acapella group also performed “Cells, Planets” and “Levitating.” (Eva Cheng)

For many middle school students, like eighth grade Concert Choir member Roger Fradin, United Voices provides an opportunity to glimpse into high school performing arts.

“My favorite part about United Voices is singing and getting to meet with all the other choirs from the other schools and sing with them,” Roger said. “It was really cool getting to meet all my brother’s friend’s last time.” 

After the middle school groups took their bows, senior Arjun Gurjar spoke about how his participation in upper school acapella group Downbeat allowed him to overcome stage fright and develop teamwork and leadership skills. 

“For those of you who are current performers or prospective performers, find yourself, your community and diversify your interests,” Arjun said. “Especially if you’re interested in STEM, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having an outlet to do something fun, creative and community oriented. Working by yourself on proposals, code papers and competitions can be incredibly isolating and pretty low. Personally, I relied on singing to find my own community.”

Following Arjun’s speech, Dolce Voce performed “Ich jauchze, ich lache,” by Johann Sebastian Bach. Next, the upper school soprano and alto ensemble took their places to sing “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” by Dolly Parton, before Dolce Voce returned to the stage, joined by upper school tenor and bass group Rhapsody.

Together, Dolce Voce and Rhapsody formed the Festival Chorus and delivered their renditions of “So Well I Know Who’s Happy” by Orazio Vecchi and “I Dream a World” by André Thomas. Based on the poem by Langston Hughes, their second song carried messages of freedom and equality through intricate harmonies and a resounding chorus.

It’s a time for the choirs to celebrate singing and to perform a whole bunch of songs

— Harrison Chen (11)

Ninth grade Dolce Volce and Festival Chorus member Laya Sunkara, who began choir in middle school, highlights United Voices’ positive influence on her middle-school self.

“It was also really fun to see the upper schoolers and see where I would be going and have something to look forward to when I went to high school,” Laya said.

Rhapsody performed “Tell My Father” by Frank Wildhorn, accompanied by violinist Simon Kirjner (10) and pianist Ipsita Mandal (12).The middle school male identifying ensemble, Razzmatazz, joined them for  “Vive La Compagnie” by The Brothers Four, playfully interacting with their corresponding, older members.

Rhapsody member Harrison Chen (11) enjoyed the time he spent with middle school performers while preparing for United Voices. 

“I think it’s really nice to have a full on choir show,” Harrison said. “We only have three over the whole year, so it’s really big, and it’s fun, especially with all the other choirs at school. We get to intermingle, like right now, we’re in the middle schooler room and upper schoolers are here to come talk and play games with them. It’s a time for the choirs to celebrate singing and to perform a whole bunch of songs.”

Cantilena then delivered two classical French pieces, “Ouvre Ton Coeur” by George Bizet and Louis Delatre, and “Beau Soir” by Claude Debussy.

Susan Nace conducts the upper school alto and soprano ensemble in their performance of “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” by Dolly Parton. The song shares the promise of hope for a brighter future. (Eva Cheng)

As the last group to perform, Downbeat commenced with “Cells, Planets,” by Erika Lloyld, before jumping into “Levitating,” by Dua Lipa, and “Jupiter: Every Day I Listen to My Heart,” a song in Japanese by Ayaka Hirahara. The group featured solos and choreography during acappella renditions.

After performing, Downbeat senior Shareen Chahal made the final speech, noting how when she was in the lower school, watching the upper school performers sparked her love for musical theater. Motivated by her experiences, Shareen hopes to spread the same inspiration and passion to younger students.

For the finale, all ten groups returned to the stage to sing “The Harker School Song” before closing the show with the spirited “Oye!” by Jim Papoulis. 

“This United Voices concert holds such a special place in my heart,” Shareen said in her speech. “Students of all ages are brought together to bring moving performances to our audience and we build connections with peers who share an equally avid passion for singing through choir. I am honored to have the opportunity to help inspire and support younger performers now in pursuing their many passions and always doing what they love.”

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Eva Cheng
Eva Cheng, Reporter
Eva Cheng (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Eva hopes to learn more about her community through interviews and interactions with students and faculty. Outside of class, she loves to play soccer, read, and spend time with her friends and family.

Comments (0)

All Harker Aquila Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *