New York, with its abundant cultural spectacles and educational opportunities, played host this year to two groups of New Trier Fine Arts students from the theatre and music departments. Department faculty, school administration, and the New Trier Fine Arts Association (NTFAA) worked together to support the participating student artists and their families.
First up were students from Theatre 3 and 4 who, at the end of January, attended thre Broadway performances and also got to peek behind the curtain, touring the NBC studios at 3 Rockefeller Plaza and working with professional actors and musicians.
After enjoying the Tony Award winning musical Come From Away, the students met with cast member Alex Finke and learned the choreography and music to the opening number, Welcome to the Rock. They also worked one-on-one with Erin Wilson, a member of the Wicked cast. According to Nina Lynn, Chair of the Media, Speech and Theatre Department, "The students ate it up and the teaching artists were extremely impressed by our kids."
Students and faculty also gathered with nineteen New Trier alums living and working in Ne York. Over dinner, the alums shared their path from high school to their current professions working as drama therapists, music therapists, actors, authors, and writers for both Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers.
The trip helped current Trevians better understand how their classes, coupled with opportunities such as the one that brought them to New York, were preparing them for a possible future in the arts.
"As someone who dreams of being in New York City," said Senior Liv Rocklin, "experiencing it with my peers and my teachers, and meeting people who had once been in my shoes, made me feel incredibly secure, motivated, and excited to move forward with New Trier High School as a base. It was a really solidifying experience for who I am and where I want to go."
Offering students a special opportunity like this was important to the Media, Speech and Theatre Department. "To accommodate the construction schedule, we have done one fewer show for the last three years," Nina Lynn explained. "We wanted to offer our oldest students something special. This trip was the perfect combination of plays, interaction with industry professionals, and connection with our former students. Current students were so excited to share this opportunity with one another, and it was invigorating to see them interact with the workshop leaders as well as the graduates."
Over Spring Break, it was the New Trier Wind Symphony and Symphony Orchestra's turn. They headed to New York with dual goals of enriching their cultural knowledge and performing high quality music at one of the world's truly historic venues.
En route, the 150 musicians stopped off at a high school in Edison, New Jersey for a performance exchange. Once in Manhattan, they not only practiced, practiced, practiced, but also visited iconic sites such as the National September 11th Memorial and Museum, and attended Lucia di Lammermoor at the Metropolitan Opera and Anastasia on Broadway.
There were daily rehearsals and master classes with local professional musicians and conductors. On Easter Sunday, the students made their way to Carnegie Hall, where they opened the invitational concert. The Wind Symphony played five pieces and the Symphony Orchestra three, the program at once wide-ranging, challenging, energetic, and gorgeous.
Peter Rosheger, who conducts the Symphony Orchestra, was both proud and moved. "It was gratifying to see the look of awe, joy, and wonder come across the faces of the students as they made their first sounds in Carnegie Hall. They were not intimidated or overwhelmed but, rather, they seized the moment and created some of the most exhilarating music I've ever heard."
Symphonic Wind Ensemble conductor Matt Temple couldn't help but note the "surreal quality" of stepping on a stage so rich in musical importance and history, a sensation echoed by senior Owen Eskandari. "To be able to play in a space with such rich history, and to sit on stage and hear as well as feel the acoustics was a moment I will never forget," he said.
Founded in 1976, the NTFAA raises money through donations, raffles, and yard sign and car magnet sales to fund guest artist visits, summer scholarships, and specialized trips such as those to New York. It provides financial assistance to individual students, helping to bridge financial gaps so that no student need forego cultural excursions and memories to last a lifetime.
Senior Sophia Feinerman, recognizing how special an experience to be at Carnegie Hall with two orchestras, said, "One of the most meaningful aspects was the feeling of inclusivity. Every
single student who wanted to come was able to. New Trier does such a great job of making it possible for all of us to participate in these special programs, which means the world. Each position in an orchestra, whether piccolo, viola, bass, French horn or marimba, is vital to the whole. So not having to leave anybody behind felt like an almost impossible gift."
Ami Campbell, NTFAA President, explained that "supporting the arts at New Trier means supporting not just terrific programs, but also terrific students and their families. The financial commitment required to send students on these trips is material, and for some families, the cost is simply out of reach. We are grateful to be able to help fill in the gap so that every student can participate."
For more details about NTFAA grants and programs, please visit newtrierfinearts.org .