Performing Music

February 16, 2024 / Christine Coddington
EMHS Messiah 2023-105_2000x1334

It’s been 50 years since the 1973 Christmas fund drive played a crucial role in shaping the school’s physical landscape. The addition of the fine arts wing was constructed in a process of symphonic hammering and chiseling. As the structure took form, it became more than just a building; it became a hub for creativity and expression.

Eastern Mennonite School’s performing arts music program reflects the school’s commitment to music and artistic development since the school was founded in 1917. Recognizing the profound impact of art on students’ lives, the school’s leadership strategically prioritized these programs, ensuring that every middle school student has a daily, year-round engagement with music, both choral and instrumental. This builds a comfort level with music that has an impact throughout school life.

Directors Maria Lorcas, Nick Gardner, and Jared Stutzman continued to build the music program crafted by previous directors, which has become a cornerstone of EMS. Students cultivate qualities such as independence, confidence, and maturity.  The fall concert season exemplifies the dedication of both the directors and students, who, in a short span of a few months, collaboratively put together an outstanding series of performances. 

A large number of students participate in string classes at EMS in grades 6-12. A handful of those students participate in string ensembles and full orchestra. In addition, both EMS students and non-students take private string lessons with Ms. Lorcas in the strings room. Ms. Lorcas plays a key role in organizing a spring instrumental festival, featuring a guest conductor.  This event enhances the richness of the fine arts program, offering students a unique opportunity to further expand their musical experiences. 

Mr. Gardner’s introduction of instrument options to 6th grade students in mid-August sets the stage for an impressive Christmas concert where instrumental students showcase their progress with only three months of solid practice.  From the basics learned in 6th grade up to level 3, the progress of skills learned is incredible.

All three faculty members pursue excellence because excellence is worth pursuing. The excellence is obvious from the concerts. The Messiah choir concert was a triumph, and the middle school fine arts concert was outstanding. Not only are the kids doing well with minimal experience, but the 3rd level bands and strings ensembles have attained a level equal to or exceeding many high school ensembles. I am grateful for the school’s placing such a high priority on the fine arts. It’s one of its most distinctive features, and very good for our students and our communities.”

Mark Rankin, EMS parent and concertgoer

The Messiah choir concert was a triumph for all who attended and participated.  Singers from the EMS touring choir, concert choir, and middle school choral united to perform selections from Handel’s Messiah. Jared Stutzman beautifully orchestrated this collaborative masterpiece, bringing together voices.

“Music is about the gospel of Jesus Christ – his love for us, his life, and his death. Singing not only challenges the students but also instills in them a deep appreciation for the power of music to connect with God and each other. It is through these choral worship services that the choir has not only showcased their musical skills but has also touched the hearts of countless audiences.” 

Jared Stutzman, director 

The triumph of these collaborative efforts reinforces the school’s dedication to musical excellence and the transformative power of shared artistic expression. EMS’s commitment to nurturing musical talent and fostering a love for the arts clearly shines through the achievements and accolades earned by its fine arts program. 

High School Musical: Fiddler on the Roof

Currently, you will find excitement in the air as the theater department practices its lines for Fiddler on the Roof.  This much-anticipated production will take place March 1-3, promising a captivating performance that showcases the talent and dedication of the theater team. Mark your calendars for a weekend filled with theatrical brilliance!  Purchase your tickets HERE!

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