Final Concerts Bring End to Year of Musical Challenge

June 4, 2021 / Andrea Wenger

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.”


  1. Joyce M Frey Alexander on June 10, 2021 at 1:00 am

    So happy for all who were involved. I graduated class of 1950, and was in touring chorus also. Went on to graduate EMC, class of ’56…so spent period of 10 years ‘in the valley’ and loved it. Then on to U of Penn with an MSW in 1958, which was also a very meaningful experience. I was so thrilled when one of my idols, since I was in 8th grade, singer Marion Anderson, received an honorary Doctorate at that graduation.
    This past year has been a trial for all of us, requiring particularly creative minds and skills for both educators and students to produce graduates. I am full of gratitude and congratulations for and to all of you. We know that life itself is a challenge, and ‘you all’ have just passed a massive life test. May I end by adding, that I also have a granddaughter and a great-granddaughter who also are now h.s. graduates, and are looking forward to college in the fall. May God continue to bless us all.

    • Trisha Blosser, EMS on June 10, 2021 at 10:17 am

      Thank you for sharing your story! We’re grateful you recognize the challenges of the last year, and also the blessings. All our best to you and your family as you look to the future!

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