The sounds of music — holiday-style — filled the J.T.M Guest Theatre at Bayview Glen School (BVG) once again this month, for a trio of memorable shows.
Performances by musicians and singers in the Lower School, Prep School and Upper School made a triumphant return — after a three-year forced absence.
“For myself, concerts and performances are a place where we as a community can come together for a moment in time when everything stops as we share and celebrate with each other,” says Angela Mantie, Music Teacher at BVG and one of the music directors of the Lower School Winter Concert.
“It seems these moments are far and few between in our every busy lives. Music and the arts are a powerful vehicle for this to happen,” she says.
And there was plenty of evidence of just that on these special evenings.
Mantie, along with fellow Lower School music teacher Ea-Ling Seun directed three different choirs (Grade 2, Primary and Junior) guiding the singing performances of more than 240 young voices.
“We have the pure luxury of working with students pre-K through grade 5, supporting them as they develop and grow through music in a safe, caring environment,” says Mantie, who is in here fifth year at BVG and 26th as an educator.
“Our shows embrace and embody our mission of Whole Child. Whole Life. Whole World. Because of this, students find their place in music making, be it acting/dancing/singing, reflecting who they are, and who they might eventually become,” she says.
During the concert, Seun shared a teachable moment she encountered with her students — while preparing them for the performance. The goal was to help them understand the significance of their time and effort to deliver these live, in-person performances.
“We spend more time at school than our own homes,” Seun said she explained to her students. “And this — BVG — might as well be called our home. This became a lightbulb moment for many of the students and the significance of this night became clear,” she shared.
“Our last winter concert was in 2019,” Seun continued. “While we managed to have virtual performances during COVID to fill the time, they just weren’t the same.”
The Lower School Winter Concert featured 11 songs, including festive-themed pieces, interspersed with performances by the Prep Jazz Band, under the direction Chris Hunsburger, Music Teacher, Arts Curriculum lead in the Prep School and Upper School.
The finale, ‘Coming Home’ by Old Sheppard featured all three choirs on stage.
Interest to attend the Winter Concert from Lower School families was high. To accommodate ticket requests, the Prep School gym was used as an overflow space, where parents, grandparents and extended family members of the performers were able to enjoy the show via livestream.
BVG’s trio of Holiday Concerts kicked off in mid-December with the Upper School performance on December 8. That show featured firsts on a few fronts. Among them, it was the first time many of the students in Grades 9 to 12 had performed in a band on-stage, in front of an audience.
“Their enthusiasm and willingness to try something that they, for the most part, had never experienced,” was particularly striking for Michael Bellissimo, Music Teacher, who is in his 20th year at Bayview Glen.
“The way they jumped back in and performed so beautifully after two and a half years of no concerts,” was a proud moment for Bellissimo, who is currently teaching a full slate of five music classes.
The Upper School Holiday Concert featured more than 10 songs, including O’ Canada, conducted by a student-musician, a vocalist, soloists and ensemble performances.
“It is not only re-teaching students how to perform in a concert, but also bringing a culture of music and concerts back to the school that is important,” he continues. This is the success of the entire Upper school faculty and their support for our program.”
Preparation of the evening’s diverse musical offerings and classic holiday favourites required plenty of preparation and commitment from all involved says the seasoned educator, now in his 32nd year of teaching.
During the Prep School Holiday Concert, which took place on December 15th, the joy of being back on-stage was palpable.
“Ms. [Diane] Drysdale and I have had such a fantastic time in our Prep School, both in the classroom and on-stage [preparing],” Chris Hunsberger, Music teacher told the packed house.
Playing a blend of holiday-themed numbers and classics, most notably from the 1980’s the Prep School Holiday Concert featured music performed by the brass ensemble, Grade 7, Grade 8 and Concert bands.
Added Hunsberger, “Getting ready for a show like this is an incredible experience to get back to!”
See Photo Galleries:
Lower School Winter Concert
Watch Video Recordings:
Upper School Holiday Concert 2022