Seniors in the Arts

RUNNING THE SHOW Stage manager senior Kendall consults St. Mark's drama teacher Rod Blaydes about the script. Photo by Mary Clare

Playing the bow on the double bass, senior Dunni, a four-year Upper School Orchestra member, has plucked her final tune with Hockaday Upper School Orchestra and Ed Long, Upper School Orchestra Director and Fine Arts Chair.

With the final swish of Long’s baton, Dunni ended her Upper School Orchestra career with the finale, “the Pines of Rome.”

With pomp and circumstance, she, like 19 other graduating seniors from the class of 2012, will don a traditional white hat and dress for graduation and bid farewell to the other orchestra members. The Orchestra, after graduation, will roughly lose one third of their 66 players.

“I remember a few years ago when we would have about 10 or 12 seniors leaving, but it feels like half the Orchestra is going to college,” Dunni said.

With fewer musicians next year, each section will take a hit; the strings, predominantly, will be affected by the loss of many talented players.

In the past year, the seniors played a crucial role in working through challenges, especially in the aftermath of the April tornado, which wreaked havoc by causing the postponement of the Upper School Orchestra Assembly.

“The spring concert is what we worked towards all year,” Dunni exclaimed. “Once it was rescheduled, many solos and concertos were cut to fit in the only available assembly time.” Several of Dunni’s friends were “very upset that they wouldn’t be playing [their solos].”

Throughout her four years as an orchestra member, Dunni has bonded with many girls who she otherwise would not have known.

“Sitting in the orchestra building will do that–not a whole lot of room, so you bond pretty quickly,” she said.

But though Dunni worries that there will be an adjustment period for the next year, she has “faith that the incoming seniors and everyone else will be able to work through it.”

Performing arts students will also see many seniors leave their midst after this year. Beth Wortley, Performing Arts Chair, regularly anticipates the loss of 10 to 18 seniors from the plays and musicals each year. This year, about 10 students will depart.

“Every year is unique, every class brings something different,” Wortley said. “No does it in quite the same way”.

Head of Middle School Drama and co-director of this year’s spring play, “Noises Off”, Susan Hubbard agrees that the departure of a class inevitably brings changes and the “dynamics change as a group from year to year.”

Freshman Aneesha, who played a village woman in the winter musical “Fiddler on the Roof”, remarked that she will greatly miss the seniors, many of whom she has forged relationships with this year. Standing in the same section in the chorus, Aneesha felt that she could ask any of the seniors in the musical for help as they were always “friendly and encouraging.”

“Many of our leads this year were seniors, and they have a lot of talent that we will miss,” Aneesha said.

Freshman Stejara, a player in orchestra, said that the exceptional musical skill from this graduating class has been very inspirational to her. “They will be dearly missed,” she said. “Next year, we won’t have the seniors to look out for us.”

But, as Dunni and the class of 2012 steps off Graduation Terrace as alumnae, Hubbard, Wortley, and Ms. Bonnie Coleman, head of Upper School Choir, have already started to prepare for next year and the prospect of “a clean slate.”

Hubbard and Wortley agree that “with new students, there are new ideas, a new repertoire and new talents.”