By Ken Martin
MEA CULPA, WITH APOLOGIES: I read my last column (Of course I read my own writing, at least just to make sure that somebody reads it.) on the “Light the Lights” concert and realized that I overlooked some people that were probably among the most important people in producing this fantastic show. Without them, there may not have been a show or, if there was, it certainly wouldn’t have been the sparkling presentation that we enjoyed.
These forgotten (by me) persons were the teachers that have been responsible for leading and directing their students to become the high quality, class act that was displayed that night. Mainly, we saw their backs at various times during the performance and I wonder how many of us even thought about how key they were to this brilliant presentation.
Our thanks go to Heidi Dahms, conductor of the CVHS orchestra; Jan Gidlund, director of the Creekside Middle School chorus; Susanna Suseoff, director of the A Cappella choir and the CVHS Men’s Ensemble; Cynthia Meyer, director of the CVHS Jazz All-stars; Janet Steidel, director of the Canyon Middle School choir; and Tiffany Boucher Daily, director of the skits brought to us by the CVHS Drama department.
All of these ladies are to be congratulated for their efforts in directing the students to reach the heights they have achieved. A standing ovation for them, please. They deserve it.
I hope I am forgiven for my sin of omission.
MEA CULPA, PART II; I received a very nice e-mail last week from Michelle Murtey thanking me for my column on the “Light the Lights” concert. “It was so nice to see so much space given to music and the arts in the schools. It’s usually sports”, she comments. Amen, Michelle. There is probably at least two pages of sports in this very issue of the Forum. In all fairness, though, the Forum does print articles on any subject if they receive the information.
But that is really not why she wrote. She wanted to point up another group that made a sizable contribution to the concert. The Castro Valley Music Parents Society (MPS) furnished the ushers, the set-up crew, and the clean-up crew. To me, though, a far more important function they perform is supporting and encouraging their children to participate in the school music programs, the result of which is what we saw at “Light the Lights”.
MPS also raises additional funding for the district music department, primarily through a spaghetti feed in April and a flea market in the fall. If you are interested in joining this group, they meet on the second Wednesday of each month at Canyon Middle School. If you would like more information, e-mail or call (510) 537-3335 ext 1926.
WELL WORTH THE TIME: I received a phone call from Erma Smith a week or so ago asking if Patty and I would like to attend a “pops” concert at the high school that featured, among other talented performers, Andrea Blunt, who did such an indescribably outstanding rendition of “God Bless America” at the “Light the Lights” concert. We indicated that we would enjoy that, so we found ourselves in the high school Cafetorium last Thursday evening.
What we were treated to, rather than a concert per se, was a very clever linking of many show tunes that were joined in such a way as to make a completely new story under the title of “To The Stage”. My hat is off to whoever engineered this very interesting and entertaining concept.
There were about 80 students in the cast, all of which were from the Choir Music department, which is under the extremely able guidance of Sue Susoeff, the Choir Music Director, who is also the producer of the show.
The abundance of talent in this show was amazing. In order to list all the talented performers in this production, I would just have to print the entire roster from the program. This makes it difficult to point out any particular stars, but I’ll try.
In order of appearance (with absolutely no intention of denigrating any of the other members of the cast), some of the standouts were: Kevin Gundred who did a very Harry Connick, Jr.- like “Taking a Chance on Love” from “Cabin in the Sky”; Lauren Santos singing “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” from “My Fair Lady” in a manner that would embellish any professional show; Lita Jensen, whose strong, even voice was ear candy, doing “God Help the Outcasts” from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”; Stacey Johnstone and Shara Neff did a delightful duet of “How the Other Half Lives” from “Thoroughly Modern Millie”; Andrea Blunt showing her usual spirit, even though she was ill, with an energetic rendition of “My Strongest Suit” from “Aida”.
Not only were these people top-notch singers but they acted and danced throughout the songs. The acting and dancing ability here was easily equal to the vocal effort.
Two other segments deserve some mention here.
One was Ken Whitney and Jillian Williams’ cleverly concocted “A Couple of Swells” from “Easter Parade”. Whitney and Willliams were almost perfectly suited as a song and dance team and they were aided by some very clever scenery. As they sang ‘….as we walked down the avenue”, while walking in place, caricature buildings in the background moved to one side or the other in unison to simulate their walking by. It was great illusion but I guess you had to be there.
Equally as impressive was “Swing Medley”. A dance troupe of about 15 dancing couples jitterbugged to tunes starting with Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” and morphing into several songs of the same era. No moves were too difficult for these dancers. They did them all and eventually moved out into the audience while continuing to dance. The energy in the room was slightly above that of an atomic bomb.
As I always say, if you weren’t there you should have been. Since this is an annual show, there will be another chance to see it (in a new version) next year.
What these students accomplish under the tutelage of Sue Susoeff is awesome. Ms. Susoeff, as well as all the students, deserve many accolades for an outstanding production.
Patty and I are already looking forward to next year. Watch this column. I’ll keep you posted.