Sounds of the season, in their own words
CENTREVILLE — Concert season is definitely different during COVID, but it’s also drawn out the realization among us all that even in times of great turmoil and change, some things remain unwavering—the power of the arts to bring us back together again— even virtually, according to Michael Bell, supervisor for visual and performing arts.
“It’s moments that matter, and making memories together are what kids will remember most,” he said.
Luke Whitehair, choir director at Kent Island High School, has been busy this December making sure our students make these memories, and for the first time in the history of Queen Anne’s County he brought both Kent Island and Queen Anne’s County high schools together so every community throughout the district can enjoy the sounds of the season and provide some much-deserved public recognition to our talented performing artists.
“Mr. Whitehair has always been an active presence, and he understands the importance of having a presence and the beauty of collaboration,” Bell said. “I’ve personally seen him working with music students at Matapeake Middle and Grasonville Elementary, after hours with our Partnering for Youth After School Program, and taking Kent Island High students across the state and the nation, garnering respect and recognition wherever they go.”
Most recently, Whitehair volunteered his time to bring together the Queen Anne’s County High and Kent Island High’s Chorus programs to bring everyone a virtual winter choral concert.
“Luke Whitehair is one of the most unselfish people I know,” said Amber Wright,
P e r f o r ming Arts Department chair at Kent Island High and QACPS 2020 Teacher of the Year. “He doesn’t hesitate to offer his help, and when it comes to students — he jumps to the occasion and choral directors across the state always stand in awe of all the superior ratings at festivals his choirs receive. Some directors have asked to attend his rehearsals just to ‘see how it is done.’ The truth is, he just loves music and shares that passion with his students to make them feel like they are important. For this reason, his choirs are second to none.”
Whitehair also asked several students what it’s like to perform virtually together, in their own words.
Logan Donnelly, senior at Kent Island High, said, “This year has presented many new challenges and obstacles to overcome. As a future performer I must say that these times are especially hard for us. That being said, I have enjoyed singing in chorus class so much. We always have so much fun and it feels like a break from the chaos that’s happening in our world.
“One thing that is nice is that when we’re videoing ourselves singing we can take multiple shots to get the perfect one. I also love seeing the combination of everyone’s singing videos come together. I hope that in the end people can see the importance of the performing
arts and how powerful they can be in confusing times like now and I am so grateful for the new challenges!”
Kira Talley, senior at Kent Island High, said, “There is something special about being a part of a choir — knowing your part and joining your vocal counterparts to create beautiful sounds. With choir being moved online, it is so much harder to find joy in singing your part when you find yourself engaged in a one-person choir. I miss the comfort of singing within a group, and the rewarding feeling when everyone in every section performs their parts flawlessly — often leaving me with chills. It has certainly been a challenge trying to get used to this new way of performing, but hopefully this is not a challenge that performers will have to endure much longer.”
Joseph Diggs, junior at Queen Anne’s County High, said, “If we can get used to singing to the best of our ability while just alone in our homes, a lot of people can really get out of their comfort zones, and when it comes time for them to sing in a big group if they choose to continue once all of this is over, there will be so much energy to feed off of. I think if we can set up a virtual classroom environment that gets people more used to talking in class over
their cameras and microphones, maybe that can be a stepping stone to singing at home and feeling much more natural.”
Abigail Reynolds, junior at Queen Anne’s County High, said, “Choir classes during COVID allows us to learn the songs at our own pace and work on our own trouble spots, which is very helpful for students who learn better on their own. I think the hardest part about singing during COVID is having to make recordings with all these rules (it has to be horizontal, blank background, nice clothing, camera same level as your face). You also have to use two devices, one for the music we are singing with headphones attached to our devices to listen to the accompaniment, and then a second device to record yourself singing. It’s all very different compared to what we’d be doing normally; some say it’s easier, and some say it’s harder. I’m just happy we still get to sing, and that our teacher is taking extra effort to create a virtual choir with our recordings.”
Enjoy QACPS’ first ever collaborative virtual winter choir concert featuring students from Kent Island High and Queen Anne’s County High here: https:// youtu. be/ JXGNMLP1URW or click the link on myeasternshoremd.com.