Inside The Performing Arts Exhibition

Alexa Geidel, Columnist

Fleet Foxes, Frozen, Wicked, Jurassic Park, Taylor Swift, Shakespeare, Led Zeppelin, folk songs, country hits, Broadway ballads, timeless classics: the Performing Arts Exhibition is the only night of the year where all these musical wonders can share the stage. Right in Horizon Honors’ own backyard.

Twice a year, the Horizon Honors Music and Drama Department puts together the Performing Arts Exhibition, an audition-only expo, designed towards giving the members of the Drama and Music Department an opportunity to showcase their own individual talents. It gives students a chance to step out of the group and into the spotlight for one night. Auditions are open to fifth through twelfth graders, and they must be a member of the Music or Drama Department, and each auditionee may bring one solo, one duet, or one group act, and an accompaniment. It is possible to “make it in” with more than two acts, but it is a rare feat. One young lady just happened to do that this year, and her name is Andi Vitagliano.

Vitagliano is a senior, in her seventh year at Horizon Honors. She has been playing clarinet in Horizon Honors’ top band, Symphonic Band, for four years in a row. Before that, she played in every band the school has to offer, since sixth grade – but strangely enough, this PAE was the first time she had ever played a contemporary clarinet piece. “‘Blue Ridge Mountains’ is a song by my absolute favorite band, Fleet Foxes. My brother specifically arranged the song for my 17th birthday over summer to perform at the PAE,” Vitagliano recalled. She performed with her brother, freshman Joey Vitagliano, the arranger, sophomore Joy Pizorno, another clarinet player, and senior Tyler Danner on piano. But that’s only one-third of her night. She appeared as an accompanist for sixth grader Natalie VanderLey, in “Sicilienne and Duetto”, who she teaches clarinet outside of school. Her third act was an Arietta by Koepke, a duet with Abbey Fitzgerald, who just so happens to be our next subject and one of the leaders of the Key of H.

Juniors Abbey Fitzgerald and Emma LeFevre stepped up to the plate to set up a large group audition for the PAE. The response was enormous. Over one-half of the top Honors choir, Cantabile Honors Chorale, volunteered their time and vocal abilities in this large group piece. 24 singers from all grades and vocal parts signed up to sing in the Key of H with their cleverly composed group name – a pun based on the fact that musical keys only go up to G, but H stands for Horizon Honors. But for Fitzgerald and LeFevre, it wasn’t all fun and games. They sacrificed every lunch period, after school time, and study break they had to make this come together. They admitted they were scared at first, but the students came to respect the duo wholeheartedly and realize that no one was a leader or dictator, but rather a problem solver, or someone to guide the group. And problem solve they did. “I’m really happy that we had this opportunity to lead kids to be something greater than themselves and show them what can happen when you put work into a group,” LeFevre summed it up. The girls stressed the energy that was apparent at the performance. They described the group as super-focus and in the moment. The group was able to finally see all their hard work come to a conclusion. LeFevre expressed the wish for the group, with some additions and losses, to get back together for future PAE’s, to prove that the faction could morph and grow with the times. Yet not everyone will be so lucky as to take part in the group next year, senior Aubrey Chaston knows the pressure is on for her last PAE.

Fresh off her flight from her callback at the prestigious University of Michigan’s School of Music, senior Aubrey Chaston auditioned with the usual show-stoppers. Unquestionably, the hottest song of the year, “Let It Go”, from Disney’s Frozen, rang through the MPR at auditions from the mouth of the only one who could do it justice. Yet, as results were posted, Chaston was dismayed to see that she had made it in with her solo (in addition to the Key of H), but not with her duet with her sister. Immediately, she requested to trade her solo in for the duet with her sister. The touching sacrifice was out of sentiment. The piece the duo auditioned with, “For Good”, came from the same Broadway stunner as their first performance together, second quarter of her sophomore year. The elder sister decided that the duet with her sophomore sister, Jaina, was more important. Nostalgia took over and she knew she had to end her last performance like she started her first, Wicked.

Sforzando: adjective, to play a section of a musical piece with sudden force and strong emphasis. That’s exactly what Performing Arts Exhibitions have come to be – sforzandos that reenergize the passion Horizon Honors has for music through a few performances a year. At its inception in 2007, the PAE didn’t stand for much other than the obvious, but it has transformed into a sort of Debutante Ball, where students promenade about and bring their hidden talents out for inspection, really getting the chance to wow the staff and audience. All four performers agreed though, that the PAE is the best environment for students of all ages to express themselves. Singing right before a senior when you’re only in fifth grade is usually deemed nerve-wracking, but in the PAE’s history has proved that it results more in inspiration. It is a challenge to keep up with the creme-de-la-creme of the Arts department, but Horizon Honors does it well, offering opportunities to performers that you can’t get anywhere else. Performing Arts Exhibitions are Horizon Honors’ secret ingredient, integrating experience level, age, genre, method of communication, but most of all talent, into the sweetest recipe imaginable.

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