Festival Brings Talent to BCHS
Seven Queens high schools showcased their talents in dance, chorus, piano, solo performances, drama, jazz and marching band at the first Queens High Schools Performing Arts Festival hosted by Beach Channel High School on Thursday, May 30. Another festival was held at Bryant High School.
The Beach Channel Band, directed by Barry Domfort, played several tunes, as participants from John Adams, Campus Magnet, Far Rockaway, Hillcrest, Humanities and the Arts, Richmond Hill, and Martin Van Buren arrived in the auditorium. The Beach Channel Color Guard presented the colors, as all of the students stood for a moment of silence in honor of everyone affected by the events of September 11. Charisse Mills (Humanities and Art) sang a powerful rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner."
After Principal Bernard Gassaway’s welcoming remarks to the talent of Queens, Jeanette Newman, Associate Director of Arts Education, presented flowers from the Queens High Schools to Marjorie Damashek (Beach Channel), coordinator of the event. The schools then broke into workshops in the auditorium, at the football field, and in the Gassaway Open Air Theatre.
"I can’t believe we have so much going on simultaneously," exclaimed Damashek. "Marching bands on the field – improvisations, scenes, monologues, and poetry presentations happening in the Open Air Theatre- dance, jazz, and choir in the auditorium – it’s wonderful!"
The drama workshop was highlighted by scenes from two original works. Terry Ann Harding (BCHS ’03) presented a monologue from her own play, "Caught in the Middle." The John Adams High School Players presented a scene from "Stars and Stripes," an original play by the drama director, Deidre Mcvey and student, Adriana Tomasino.
At the end of the festival Ron Kornegay (BCHS gospel chorus director) directed all of the seven schools in "He’s Able" by Bill Withers. "Five or six hundred spirited voices is a powerful thing," said Kornegay.
An annual performing arts festival-workshop is an idea born from many conversations involving John Marcus, Assistant Principal at Beach Channel, Marjorie Damashek, and Janet Newman. "I leave this school filled with a wonderful spirit," said Newman. "Mr. Marcus, Ms. Damashek, Deidre McVey, and many, many others want this to grow even bigger next year."