The standing ovation went on… and on. It was a release of joy and appreciation after more than a year of silenced musical performances at Eastern Mennonite School and around the world during a global pandemic. Families and school staff reveled in live music in the school’s auditorium.
The EMHS commencement concert on Thursday evening, June 4, brought together Touring Choir members who had sung throughout the year in small groups, muffled by masks, through megaphones and into microphones, in secluded rooms listening to peers on laptops and speakers, and logging in via Zoom.
An orchestra concert earlier in the evening showcased the hard work of students practicing on their own with Zoom, in small groups and in early morning rehearsals before the school day began.
Both groups spread across the stage. Their eyes communicated what audience members couldn’t see on their lips due to masks. Tears afterward for many were a release from a pent up year.
Middle and high school music teachers — Maria Lorcas, Nick Gardner, and Jared Stutzman — shared in the excitement of the evening, setting a tone of appreciation for all the school community gained during the pandemic, as opposed to focusing on the losses.
“Music brings us together,” said Paul Leaman, head of school, in opening comments as he expressed appreciation for the music teachers’ ingenuity and persistence throughout the last year. “We thank God for this gift and our chance to enjoy it in person tonight.”