Blair Academy’s fine and performing artists took to the outdoors on May 4 for “A Night With the Stars.” Starting at 5:45 p.m., the evening offered students, faculty, staff and families the opportunity to celebrate Blair’s arts programs by participating in exhibitions and a concert at a variety of outdoor campus venues, all while adhering to health-and-safety protocols designed to keep community members safe.
During the first portion of the evening, attendees enjoyed a stroll among beautiful pieces of art on display throughout campus. The exhibition featured an outdoor gallery walk from Insley porch to the Chiang-Elghanayan Center for Innovation and Collaboration, with artwork hung along the path. Additional work was displayed in and around the Chiang-Elghanayan Center. Guests viewed paintings, mixed mediums, drawings, sculpture, photography/digital art and fine crafts
Fine arts department chair Kate Sykes invited attendees to enjoy the outdoor art experience as they mixed and mingled with student artists who were on hand to discuss their work. She hoped students would experience pride in having others experience the fruit of their hard work and efforts.
To view more photos from the exhibit visit our Photoshelter.
Following the walkabout art show, Blair’s performing arts program took the stage for a 6:45 p.m. concert outside of Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts. Vocal and instrumental musicians performed on the plaza in front of the building, and the audience was invited to sit on the adjacent lawn. View the full concert below:
The Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Singers and Chamber Choir presented a varied repertoire of popular and classical music, highlighting the skills they have been working on this year in their performances. Music selections by the Jazz Ensemble included Nina Simone's rendition of "Feeling Good" and "Seven Steps to Heaven" by Miles Davis. The Blair Academy Symphony Orchestra performed "Dawn" from Winter Songs and "Pervicacity" by Jack Stamp, the piece's world premiere.
The Singers began their portion of the evening with "Siyahamba," a Zulu folk song. Following the Singers, a small a capella group presented their rendition of “Blackbird” by The Beatles. The Orchestra and Singers also each performed versions of Queen’s classic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
A Night to Remember
“The event was be similar to an outdoor concert, such as those held at Tanglewood or Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, where audience members sat in chairs or on picnic blankets and enjoyed art as the sun set,” said performing arts department chair and director of instrumental music Jennifer Pagotto.
Mrs. Pagotto hoped that attendees felt joy in seeing and hearing live music and art created by their peers. They found a little sense of normalcy, she noted, at coming together to celebrate the arts during the spring at Blair.
“I always think people who see the work that is created by our student artists must have a sense of wonder and want to know more about the artists,” Mrs. Sykes said, reflecting that seeing people perform or seeing the way they express themselves visually can be a way to get to know them better. “I hope that by attending A Night with the Stars community members were reminded how deeply the happiness of hearing live music and seeing art can fill their cups and speak to their souls.”
Orchestra member Laila Davson ’22 was excited to perform for a live audience again during A Night with the Stars. Students have not had an in-person concert since November 2019, so this event marked the first time many students will perform together on Blair’s campus.
“I was really looking forward to the moments leading up to the first song, like being backstage, the quick warmups, the good luck when it's your turn to perform,” Laila said. “I love the sense of excitement that everyone goes through together. We don’t necessarily get that connection when recording virtually.”
This event also gave seniors the chance to have a Spring Concert and Art Exhibition, and it gave first-year students the experience of a classic spring at Blair. Mrs. Sykes was excited for many of these students to show another side of themselves that others may not see often.
“I always love the joy and sparkle that come through the community as students are congratulated on their work,” Mrs. Sykes said. “There is excitement and good energy as everyone shares in a collective experience of enjoying something together. We’ve been missing that a bit, and it was great to see people come together outside to celebrate one another again.”