Performing arts students rehearse for Huss Center opening night gala

Junior Emily Schoonover sings her solo in "City Called Heaven".

This fall, the Lower, Middle, and Upper School came together to perform songs and acts for the first time in the new performing arts center on Oct. 10. The opening night gala acknowledged everyone involved in the contribution to the construction of the Huss Center.

For the past few weeks, students from Honors Sinfonia, Summit Chamber, Academy Chamber Chorale, and the theater production have been rehearsing back to back. But, some groups such as Honors Sinfonia have been going over the music since last school year.

“We started last spring after the spring concert at the end of April, and we spent May learning the music for the kids who already were in high school,” Middle and Upper School Orchestra Director Almut Engelhardt said. The incoming freshmen in Chamber Ensemble also learned the pieces and performed a simplified version in the Middle School concert.

Because Labor Day was much later this school year, the decision to learn pieces months before the opening night was planned ahead. The Honors Sinfonia was already prepared by the time school started . “We just had to kind of dust it off,” Engelhardt said.

This has been really a team effort, I don’t think there’s anybody who hasn’t given their absolute most. ”

— Middle and Upper School Orchestra Director Almut Engelhardt

The Summit Chamber and the Academy Chamber Chorale together consisted of 34 singers. They sang City Called Heaven because it was performed previously at Carnegie Hall and it held “special significance for the choirs,” Middle and Upper School Choir director Anne Klus said. Junior Emily Schoonover sang an impressive solo accompanied by Tim Kraack (’05).

Performing in the Huss Center is much different this year and not only are faculty excited about it, but students are looking forward to the Pops concert and other events as well that will be held right next door to the school. “You don’t have to [bring] your violin or whatever you play to O’Shaughnessy. It’s very convenient,” sophomore Noa Carlson said.

The most prominent change that has stood out for everyone is the sound. “[The Huss Center] sounds a lot different and also they can change the building so you sound even more different,” freshman Phillip Bragg said. “I’m mostly honored that we get to be apart of the opening ceremony.”

Everyone was also overwhelmed by the magnificence and elegance of the auditorium. “I think the sound is just to die for. It’s just incomparable to O’Shaughnessy. And it’s ours! Yay! If you forget something, you run back and you get it … the hall is just gorgeous both in terms of aesthetics and in terms of sound,” Engelhardt said.

The Huss Center opening gala has been the result of months of hard work. Maintenance has helped behind the scenes and with sound and lighting every rehearsal and students and teachers have cooperated with the tremendous change. “I hope [the audience will] be impressed by the breadth of the program and by the dedication of everyone involved,” Engelhardt said.

The opening night gala revealed the potential of students at St. Paul Academy and Summit School and how the new Huss Center auditorium will complement future theater productions or musical performances that will be held in the space.

“This has been really a team effort, I don’t think there’s anybody who hasn’t given their absolute most. I hope that comes across in a happy way — the dedication and the effort to give [everyone’s] very, very best,” Engelhardt said.

Students will be performing on Monday Oct. 12 at 9:20 during X-period as well.

All photos from the Oct. 9 rehearsal.

All music from the Opening Night Gala on Oct. 10.