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Bishop McNamara High School celebrates another fabulous year in the Fine Arts.
First up, The Theatre program brought the 90s movie classic, Sister Act to life through the Broadway Musical hit! Playing to a sold out house throughout the run, this production was a stunning way to kick off a season of amazing productions by the Fine Arts Department. Director and Theatre teacher, Mary Mitchell-Donahue, is known for producing solid theatrical productions; current FADE student, Bryson Boston, pointed out, “...the acting, singing, and dancing was top notch and was well received by the audience, who were not shy to interrupt with loud applause.”
Following our Fall Musical, the BMHS Fine Arts Department came together for the highly anticipated annual Fine Arts Christmas Festival. A combination of all of the arts offered at BMHS, the Christmas Festival features the upper level performing music ensembles from Chamber Choir to Wind Ensemble and upper level dance classes from Honors Tap IV to Traditional African Music and Dance IV. Also gracing the stage, the cast of Sister Act performed one of their show-stopping numbers. With some musical selections set to the work of the Visual Arts classes, the Fine Arts Christmas Festival is a true multidimensional display of the vast arts programming offered at BMHS.
Each spring, the Fine Arts Department is in full gear as the Band, Orchestra and Choir programs prepare for their final concerts, the Theatre program mounts the spring play, and both Dance programs present their masterful cumulative productions. The Diviners was Mrs. Mitchell-Donahue’s choice for the 2018 spring play. A new work to the BMHS community, audience members were enamored by the skill and grace with which the student actors portrayed the deep characters in this dramatic story of love, loss, and identity.
The Classical Dance program staged yet another breathtaking weekend of dance. This year’s Dance to Life production entitled Virtues and Vices not only introduced the audience to the breadth and talent of our Dance program, it made a social and political impact as well. Each dance number displayed virtues such as caring, faithfulness, and confidence, or tackled vices such as ignorance, hate, and cowardice. Under the direction of Victoria Keithline and Cindy King, with additional choreography by Danielle Ward, Virtues and Vices was a cohesive production which highlighted the capacity of dance as a storytelling artistic medium.
The Final production to grace the stage of the Fine Arts Theatre was the ever-popular Sankofa Production this year entitled Violet, an original dance drama adaptation of Alice Walker’s, “The Color Purple.” Each year, the Sankofa Production stuns audiences with the artistry and athleticism of its performers. “The dummers, the set, the actors, and the techies harmoniously worked together to put on a great show that resonated with the audience,” Junior Theatre student Morgan McCann stated. Under the artistic vision of Director Victor Bah with assistant direction by Christy Bartholomew, four levels of Traditional African Music and Dance take the stage to present a dance theatre production complete with awe-inspiring original choreography, authentic West African costumes, punctuated by the music of African drums.
Rounding out our year, the Music Program presents an extensive concert series. Setting the stage for what would be an excellent season of music, the Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Lab, conducted by adjunct faculty member Fred Hughes, thrilled the audience with an evening of jazz selections from standards to contemporary pieces, complete with the opportunity for student musicians to improvise. Next to perform were the Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Percussion Ensemble under the direction of Francine Amos Hardy. This concert featured innovative pieces such as “All About Dat Trash” in which the Percussion Ensemble played solely on trash cans. The Choir Concert, boasting five dynamic performing ensembles, delighted the audience with an array of song selections from gospel and classical to the contemporary. With Rhoda Sutton at the helm, the Choir Concert delivered a vast repertoire with the largest number of senior participants in years. Finally, closing out the school year, Anthony Conto conducted the Wind Ensemble and String Orchestra in an impressive concert which also featured the Full Orchestra (Wind Ensemble and String Orchestra combined) performing the Pirates of the Caribbean medley.
Orchestrating and leading all that is behind the scenes, Dominic Traino not only teaches courses in Tech Theatre, he also trains and directs the technical crew for every BMHS Fine Arts performance and beyond. From lighting to sound, Mr. Traino and his crew keep it all running smoothly.
Beyond the BMHS performances throughout the year, the Fine Arts Department presents a Guest Artist series in which local and nationally acclaimed artists share their stories and talents. These Colloquia are designed for our FADE (Fine Arts Diploma Endorsement) students, but all are welcome to join for these workshops, performances, and Master Classes. The FADE program serves to refine students' talent and skill, cultivate a community of respect, appreciation, and understanding of the arts, and acknowledge students' dedication to the Fine Arts throughout their high school career. Securing these guests artists, coaching students of this program, and supporting all Fine Arts operations and events, Michele Vicino-Coleman joins McNamara as the brand new Fine Arts Coordinator and FADE Advisor.
Our Visual Arts Program celebrated many successes this year as well. New to McNamara, Laura Doggett went above and beyond, planning multiple field trips in which her Digital Art students had the opportunity to visit Smithsonian museums and galleries. Under the guidance of Kathryn Heneghan, Drawing, Color and Digital Art students created pieces that provided a backdrop to various musical numbers in the Fine Arts Christmas Festival. She is also tirelessly adorning the halls of BMHS with student artwork, displaying the many talents of the Visual Arts students.
In addition to being excellent educators, our Fine Arts Faculty and Staff are practitioners of their art forms. From composing original musical works, to guest conducting university ensembles, from running a thriving dance studio, to performing on stage, our teachers and staff bring real world, professional experience to the classroom. Furthermore, our Fine Arts Faculty and Staff strive to create an atmosphere of learning in which students are challenged to meet high expectations, providing opportunities for enrichment and self-assessment.
In the words of Blessed Father Moreau, "We shall always place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart."
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