Ross Upper School students took the stage this week for the school’s spring theater production, Crunch Time: A Musical Revue. Featuring excerpts from timeless classics like Into the Woods, Les Misérables, and Godspell, as well as contemporary shows such as Hamilton, School of Rock, and La La Land, the young entertainers kept audiences on the edge of their seats.Read More
Ever since he was a child, Feifan (Lucky) Lu ’18 has felt a need to communicate, keeping journals and improvising songs to express his innermost feelings. For his Senior Project, Lucky wrote and composed his first full-length song, “When We Were Young,” a quiet but uplifting track meant to encourage his peers about the uncertainty and excitement of their coming years.Read More
Audiences were in for a treat this week when Ross Upper School presented its spring musical, an adaptation of Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan’s Thoroughly Modern Millie. Set in 1922, the play recalls the trials of Millie Dillmount, a young Midwestern woman who moves to New York City in search of a more fruitful and exciting life. However, her plan quickly unravels when checks into the Hotel Priscilla, and hilarity ensues as she navigates love, work, and the pursuit of happiness.
Fast-paced choreography, beautiful costumes, and enthusiastic performances by the cast and orchestra make this a show everyone should see. Don’t miss your chance to see the students’ final performance of this production on Saturday, May 19, at 11:30am in Court Theater!
Click here for more images from Ross School’s spring production of Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Under the direction of Performing Arts teacher Gerard Doyle, students learned about and practiced Aristotelian elements of drama to perform and bring to life Sophocles’ Antigone and Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis. Antigone tells the story of a woman so committed to preserving her brother’s memory that she defies the king in order to bury him with dignity. Iphigenia in Aulis details Agamemnon’s tortured decision to sacrifice his eldest daughter to the gods on the eve of his war with Troy. Both plays feature timeless themes of civil disobedience, sense of duty, and familial loyalty.
According to sixth grade teacher Deborah Minutello-Bartlett, the students recognized and connected with the playwrights’ depiction of empowered female characters, and they enjoyed exploring the components of producing a theatrical performance, including sewing their own costumes.
As part of their studies of ancient empires, Ross seventh graders brought the iconic Julius Caesar and Roman Senate to life last week, sharing the drama, intrigue and treachery that marked this pivotal point in history through a dramatic interpretation of William Shakespeare’s beloved play, Julius Caesar. The audience eagerly followed scenes and characters from the life and death of the legendary dictator, including his assassination by Brutus, Cassius, and others on the Ides of March.
On February 11, the Great Hall was filled with music and dance at the Grades 9–12 Winter Concert. Students, families, faculty, and staff enjoyed delightful performances by the Jazz Band, Chorus, Chamber Ensemble, Chorus, Jazz/Hip-Hop Dance Club, and Global Rhythms class.
Assistant Head of Lower School Bryan Rosenberg welcomed the audience, and then turned the stage over to Performing Arts teacher Robert Davies. Robert, who conducts strings ensembles at various levels, said that the school’s commitment to music and the arts was an important part of the learning experience at Ross and that he was impressed with the third graders’ progress on the various instruments.
The students played a few pieces, including “Joyful, Joyful,” selected to demonstrate their skill with the instruments as well their ability to read music. Robert explained that they are currently learning scales based on new knowledge of musical notes. The group wrapped up with an upbeat performance of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”
Next to take the stage was teacher Maureen Isbister and the third grade band. The students extended their own welcome to the audience and explained that they, too, would be performing selections to showcase their progress and proficiency, including songs with quarter, half, and whole rests. They entertained the audience, ending with a classic rendition of “Jaws” (a band favorite).
Overall, the collective progress with both reading musical scores and working together to create music is impressive. The community can look forward to command performances at the upcoming Lower School concert.
On November 17, families, faculty, staff, and members of the community gathered in the Ross Upper School Court Theater for the Grades 9–12 Fall Concert. The students once again performed a beautiful mix of music and dance numbers that showcased their many talents and brought the audience to their feet with praise.
Under the direction of Morris Goldberg and Michael Guglielmo, the jazz band opened the evening with great renditions of “We See,” by Thelonious Monk; “We’ll Be Together Again,” by Carl T. Fischer; and “Watermelon Man,” by Herbie Hancock.
Performing Arts teacher Robert Davies and the chamber ensemble followed with an excerpt from Mozart’s Symphony 25, arranged by Jamin Hoffman, and the “Theme from Howl’s Moving Castle,” by Joe Hisaishi.
Next up was Dean of Performing Arts Adam Judd and the chorus with moving performances of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” “Flashlight,” by Furler, Guzman, Moore, and Smith; and “Cheerleader,” by OMI.
The dancers took the stage next, performing a group modern study, choreographed by Wellness teacher Sheryl Hastalis, that included traditional technical steps as well as elements of shape, spatial awareness and kinetic design. Milly Xue ’19, Jade Diskin ’19, and Tali Friedman ’18 were next to delight with solo performances of a fan dance, a “Sugar Plum Variation,” and a modern dance. The dance program concluded with a contemporary solo by Clea Jin ’17, who performed to Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” sung by Sofia Karlberg, and a second group modern study, choreographed by German dance company Rosas danst Rosas.
Teaching associates Levy Mwanza and Marisa Caliguri and their Global Rhythms class closed the evening with rousing performances of “Send Me on My Way” by Rusted Root, as well as “Pumpkin,” “Zimbabwe,” “Frog,” and “Journey to the Feast,” a class original. The arrangements featured drums, xylophone, and Levy’s special African marimbas.
“The performances were truly inspiring as an expression of the students’ hard work and amazing variety of talents,” Adam said.
This past weekend, members of the Ross community gathered to watch the 10th Annual Ross One-Act Plays: You Never Know What You're Gonna Get, a delightful evening of theater showcasing the diverse talents of our students. The much-anticipated event did not disappoint, offering a powerful mix of comedic and dramatic performances. The seven plays and two monologues were drawn from award-winning entries to national play writing competitions.
Under the guidance of Performing Arts teacher Gerard Doyle, the students put together professional performances that are sure to pull in coveted nominations for Teeny Awards, which recognize the theatrical talents of high school students on the East End. Winners will be announced in June. This year also brought senior Katie Morgan’s directorial debut; she worked with talented actresses Isabel Timerman ’16 and Camila Mendonca ’16 to develop a hilarious play about two friends discussing dating and relationships, So Tell Me About This Guy.
“Our theater program is an important part of the overall experience at Ross,” Gerard said. “It’s wonderful to watch how the creative process and performances help the students develop confidence and self-assurance, and the talents that emerge are terrific.”
Fall One-Act Plays
The Legend of Bloody Mary By Rebecca Young; directed by Gerard Doyle Carrie.................................................. Caly Stewart Bridget................................................ Ava Seccuro Hannah.............................................. Gianna Scala
18 More Reasons Not to Be in a Play By Alan Haenel; directed by Gerard Doyle ................................................... Chandler Littleford
So Tell Me About This Guy By Dolores Whiskeyman; directed by Katie Morgan Marla............................................. Isabel Timerman Angie........................................... Camila Mendonca
Airborne By Gib Johnson; directed by Gerard Doyle Sawyer.......................................... Bruna Armstrong Doctor...................................... Emmanuelle Benard Lisa................................................ Beatriz Rigueira
The Baby War By Laura Cotton; directed by Gerard Doyle Carolyn.......................................... Lauren McClean April.............................................. Leona Rethmann Patricia............................................. Victoria Rocha
Thank You So Much for Stopping By Halley Feiffer; directed by Gerard Doyle .......................................................... Katie Morgan
No Dogs Allowed By Shel Silverstein; directed by Gerard Doyle Mrs. Q................................................ Sophia Beck Wills.................................................... Bernardo Sá
Tape By Jose Rivera; directed by Gerard Doyle Person................................................. Bruce Wang
Lunchtime By Rob Marcato Angela................................................ Katie Morgan Donna................................................. Sophia Beck Man..................................................... Bernardo Sá
CREW Lighting Designer..................... Sebastian Paczinsky Stage Manager............................... Nadzia Kempski Assistant Stage Managers......... Emma-Scott Egbert, Denise Garcia, Sarah Jannetti, Rachel Lerner Lighting Board Operator....................... Alex LaPierre Sound Design.......................................... Adin Doyle Sound Desk Operator................ Mark Frenzel-Sulyok
Students, faculty, family and friends gathered in the Senior Building Lecture Hall on Tuesday for a delightful Community Recital with performances by Johnny Xu ’16, Orlando Narizzano ’20, Dean of Performing Arts Adam Judd, and Performing Arts teacher Robert Davies. The recitals, held several times throughout the school year, are an opportunity to come together to enjoy the many talents of members of the extended Ross community.
Adam sang two meaningful songs. The first, titled “Beautiful City,” from the Broadway play Godspell, aligns with Ross School’s commitment to sustainability. The second, “Closer than Ever,” was a tribute to Adam’s grandfather and mother, who were his first piano and choir instructors respectively. Janet Fensterer accompanied on the piano.
Next up was Johnny Xu on the clarinet. He performed a beautiful rendition of “Song of Herd,” a traditional Chinese melody composed by Yan Wang. “The tone depicted the scene of the sun rising on the Mongolian steppe. There are no meters for the rhythm; the whole idea is to express a sense of liberty and relief,” Johnny explained. He’s been playing the clarinet since he was nine years old, and he plans to minor in music in college.
Johnny was followed by Robert, who offered a lively version of slap bass ace Wojtek Pilichowski’s "Cowboy from Prague." He first introduced the song, explaining that the piece calls for it to be played using the side of the thumb.
Orlando, on piano, wrapped up the recital with a rousing “improvised version of ‘Seven Bar Blues.’” He says he’s been playing the piano since he was little and fell in love with jazz and the blues after his father taught him the “cool little blues song.”
“The recitals are always fun because we often have the pleasure of hearing amazing performances by members of our community for the first time,” Adam said.
The next Community Recital will be held in April, and students who will be playing solos at the NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) festival are encouraged to participate.
Earlier this month, the talented performers in grades 3–8 and 9–12 performed their spring concerts for appreciative audiences of friends and family. The programs included a diverse mix of classical, jazz, and global music and dance.
The grades 9–12 concert, held on June 3 in the Court Theater, kicked off with the Jazz Band’s renditions of songs by legends Hal McKusick, Horace Silver, and Victor Feldman and Miles Davis. The Chamber Ensemble changed the pace, performing Quartet No. 1 in C major, Little Fugue in G minor, and Csárdás. The Chorus then took the audience back to the Italian Renaissance with “Sicut cervus,” and returned them to the present with “Save the World/Don’t You Worry Child.”
The second half of the concert included a modern dance solo by Tali Friedman ’18, who performed a routine to “Switchfoot”; “Word Dance Solos: Traditional Choreography from China’s Border” by Wenqian Ziang ’15; and Ballet elective dances to Coppelia. The Global Rhythms drummers closed the concert, bringing the crowd to their feet to dance to their calypso beat.
A week later, students in grades 3–8 performed in the Great Hall. The Grade 3 Concert Band opened with “London Bridge,” “A Mozart Melody,” “OK Chorale,” and—just in time for summer—“Theme from Jaws.” The Grades 4–6 Recorders group followed with “Paw Paw Patch,” “Largo,” and “La Cucaracha.” The Grade 3 String Orchestra was next to impress with a number of pieces from Essential Elements, Book 1, including the “Can-Can” and “A Mozart Melody.”
The program moved on to the Grades 4–6 Concert Band with “The Marching Machine” and “Celebration Overture,” followed by the Lower School Chorus with “Do-Re-Mi,” in honor of The Sound of Music’s 50th anniversary, and “Reflection.” The Grades 4–6 String Orchestra kept the audience rapt with “Over the Rainbow” and “Classic Sinfonia”; the Grades 7–8 Chorus performed “Anima mea,” “Angel in Eternal Flight,” “See You Again,” and “Riptide”; and Grades 7–8 String Orchestra shared “Selections from Fireworks Music,” “Evening Prayer” from Hansel and Gretel, and Newfoundland folk song “Lumber Camp Song.”
Singers from Grades 3–6 had the audiences thinking happy thoughts and tapping along to “What a Wonderful World” and “Wake Me Up!”; and the Grades 7–8 Concert Band brought the beautiful event to a close with a diverse selection including Hebrew Folk Song Suite No. 3, “Music from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” and Selections from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Bravo, Ross School performers, for a year filled with song and dance!
A sense of wonder was in the air at the recent Ross School Children’s Community Theater performances of Over the River and Into the Woods. The original play, written and directed by Performing Arts teacher Margaret Kestler*, follows adolescent boys Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer through encounters with fairy tale heroines and princesses.
The play opens with Tom falling head over heels for Becky Thatcher, which prompts Huck to warn his friend that no good can come from love and marriage. As examples, he points to the fabled tales of charming princes and their valiant deeds performed in pursuit of their lady loves—though in his humorous versions, the tales end slightly short of happily ever after.
The scenes draw the audience “into the woods” to the magical worlds of Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, The Frog Prince, Pocahontas, and Beauty and the Beast, and the acting, scenery, and music were, in one word, “fabulous.” As the rousing applause subsided after the final act, the smiling crowd discussed the endearing tale of coming of age, with many recalling their own fond memories of adolescence and first brushes with love.
Bravo to the cast and crew!
*Special thanks go to the play’s music director Loreen Enright, Ann and Bill Stewart for the beautiful set design, Laura Eisman and Sally Wang for costume design, and Tathiana Teixiera for choreography.
Back in March and April, seven budding musicians from the Lower School participated in the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Solo Festivals. On May 29, they shared their solos with their classmates in a recital in the Multi-Purpose Room.
The NYSSMA Festival provides music students with an opportunity to perform and receive a detailed evaluation based on certain criteria by certified NYSSMA judges. A few of the Ross Lower School students were reviewed at the festival in Westhampton on March 31, and the others were critiqued at the festival in Shirley, held April 17–18. They played or sang their prepared piece and an additional short sight-reading piece; instrumental students also performed scales. The judges gave them a score as well as helpful comments highlighting positive points and areas for improvement.
Most of the students began practicing their pieces in December and January. Performing Arts teachers Robert Davies, Maureen Isbister, and Deanna Locascio worked with the students on their scales, posture, breathing, rhythms, and techniques to help them prepare. “It was great to see them commit and work hard on their solos, and their beautiful performances certainly reflected their efforts,” Deanna said.
The recent MPR assembly included soulful vocals and classical arrangements played on the piano, clarinet, violin, and cello. Afterward, the students answered questions from parents and schoolmates about the experience at the festivals, preparations, and why they chose to study their particular instrument.
“NYSSMA can open up the doors to other pivotal experiences, including being a part of future Suffolk County Music Educators’ Association festivals, and we are thrilled to have Ross students involved,” Deanna added.
Rave reviews and a full house: the cast and crew of Chicago, this year’s spring musical, definitely “had it coming.” Katie Morgan starred as Roxie Hart alongside Liza Marinokha as Velma Kelly, two Jazz Age female murderers in the vice-ridden city. JeongHo Ha played their slick defense attorney, while Big Kitty Xue and Yanni Giannakopoulos kept the crowd in stitches as prison matron “Mama” Morton and sob-story reporter Mary Sunshine, respectively. Malik Basnight rounded out the major cast as downtrodden Amos Hart, Roxie’s husband.
The musical opened with a rousing rendition of “All That Jazz,” starting the audience on a journey through a variety of vaudeville-style musical numbers. Enhanced with Fosse-style choreography designed by teacher Sheryl Hastalis, and accompanied by an orchestra led by Dean of Performing Arts Adam Judd and including some faculty and students, the entire cast rose to the challenge of the solo, duet, and ensemble pieces that are part of the canon of Broadway musicals, including “Mr. Cellophane,” “Razzle Dazzle,” and “Cell Block Tango.”
Director Gerard Doyle, Adam, and Sheryl all expressed their pleasure with the success with which the cast pulled off the three performances—and with the weeks of work that led up to the opening curtain. “I can honestly say Chicago was one of the best productions we have produced in my 11 years directing shows at Ross,” said Gerard. Adam added, “I was consistently impressed with how fully and often the cast and crew expressed their trust in each other.” This trust and commitment to perfecting performances was evident—Chicago was a smashing success!
The crew behind the scenes also contributed to a fantastic experience. Everything from lighting to set construction and sound design was artfully executed. The production team extended a special thanks to teacher Jon Mulhern for his work on set construction and to Ross alum Adin Doyle ’14 for putting in hours on sound design.
This year’s musical was one of grand proportions, and the time and talent put into Chicago was greatly appreciated by all that attended. Congratulations to the entire cast and crew for a job supremely well done!
In a lively concert held in the Field House at Ross Lower School on May 22, students in pre-nursery through grade 2 celebrated spring with a concert featuring familiar favorites, songs sung in Mandarin and Spanish, and joyful tunes heralding the beauty of the season.
Pre-nursery, nursery and pre-kindergarten students opened with uplifting traditional tunes “Forsythia,” “In the Springtime,” “Namaste,” and Spanish folk song “De colores,” as well as classic favorites, “What a Wonderful World” (which they also performed in sign language) and “You Are My Sunshine.” Their energy was infectious, and the audience was happy to sing along to the final tune.
Next, the first and second grades sang “Springtime Sunshine” and “LOL!,” a song that had the audience laughing in surprise when the students and first grade teacher Jamie Laggis popped up big letters on poster board to spell out the title of the tune in time with the refrain.
A group of talented second graders then performed “Merrily We Roll Along” and “Hot Cross Buns” on their recorders. All the students joined together to conclude the concert with “Zao fei ji” (sung in Mandarin), “Put on Your Green Shoes,” and a rousing rendition of Ritchie Valens’s “La bamba,” sung in Spanish.
It was a great opportunity to gather as a community to celebrate the beauty of the season.
On May 9, over 200 guests attended the 12th annual Live @Club Starlight gala in support of the Steven J. Ross Scholarship Fund. The benefit’s goal was to help Ross continue to provide a world-class education to a variety of students, regardless of their economic situation.
Ross School alumna Alexandra Fairweather ’08 served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the event, welcoming guests and discussing the importance of the scholarship fund. Chief Education Officer Jennifer Chidsey then spoke about the event’s honorees, Ross parents Barrie Glabman and Adam Schwartz, and their contributions to Ross School. Next, two students benefiting from the SJR Scholarship Fund shared the ways their Ross education enriches their lives, helping them to discover their passions and talents.
The evening began with a cocktail hour, followed by a fabulous dinner prepared by the Ross School Café team, led by Chef de Cuisine Liz Dobbs. The crowd then rocked out on the dance floor to tunes performed by music legends Joan Osborne, GE Smith, and Robbie Wyckoff.
Attendees also took the opportunity to learn about the more than 100 items available in the online and silent auctions, including a seven-night stay at the Luxurious Villa Janus at Round Hill Resorts in Jamaica, personal training sessions, local getaways, artwork, gift certificates to local businesses, and camp sessions for kids. Bidding continues at http://www.silentauctionpro.com/bidonline.php?groupId=463 through May 18 and at http://www.charitybuzz.com/RossSchool until May 22.
“Starlight is a wonderful event that unites our community around what is at the center of the founders’ principles—creating a stellar educational experience for children and helping them develop into the leaders of tomorrow,” said Perry Babcock, director of institutional development at Ross.
Starlight partners included Anke’s Fit Bakery, Bostwick’s Clambakes & Catering Company, Carpet One of the Hamptons, Cavaniola’s, Channing Daughters Winery, Chinatown, Edible East End, Fresh Hamptons, Hampton Coffee Company, Hamptons magazine, Il Capuccino, Lynch’s Garden Center, Montauk Bus, the New York Knicks, Pierre’s, Russian Standard Vodka, Sag Harbor Express, Sag Harbor Rum, Saunders & Associates, The Seafood Shop, So Cool Soaps; Wölffer Estate Vineyard, and Zico Water.
Last week, Ross Lower School students in grades K–6 presented to the extended Ross community an original play titled Beginnings, a dramatic narrative of the School’s Cultural History curriculum for the lower grades. Performance Arts teacher Margaret Kestler, who wrote the play with input from the teachers and students about their specific grade’s studies, describes Beginnings as “a manifestation of intellect and imagination—a living work of art, integrating theater, dance, music, visual arts, and cultural history.”
Through interpretive performance, each class unfolds and moves their part of the story forward, offering a curricular gift to the next grade. The students did a masterful job of sharing with their audience the evolution of human consciousness and the advent of spiritual thought and wonderment.
The production’s colorful costumes and sets added to the magical experience. After a performance last week at Grandparents and Special Friends Day, family and friends said they were “in awe” of the students’ talents and ability to tell the story of humanity’s wonderful and complex history.
A special thanks goes to the dedicated members of the Ross community who helped with the production, including Deanna Locascio, who worked closely with Margaret Kestler to develop the music that accompanied the storyline; Margaret Bodkin for her musical talents; Nancy Baxter, who helped prepare the kindergartners; Adam Judd for developing the sound; Sy Abramowitz for lighting; Ross parents Bill Stewart and Dan Meeks for creating the amazing canopy sculpture that stretched above the stage like the Sun and the heavens, and served as the screen for projections; Ben Sigua and staff who “went above and beyond” to transform the Field House into a theater; and Christopher Engel for his ongoing support!