Madeleine Cope, Senior Thesis Student and Dancer, compels us to get out from behind our desks and utilize movement in our learning experiences.
What does dance mean to us? Is it an art form, utilized for its expression and creativity? Is it an athletic form that can lead dancers down an elitist path as we see in reality competition shows? Or, is it an enjoyable activity pursued by people all around the country for sheer pleasure and enjoyment? Whether we know it or not, we witness dance more often than we think. From seeing it on TV, on the VPAC mainstage , or even at social events, we can all admit that dance is a platform for expression that has been an element of life for as long as we have known. Although we have seen dance via different mediums for ages, it seems as though we haven’t utilized dance for what all it can do for us. Recent research has shown that dance can have meaningful benefits outside of places like a stage or TV screen; in fact, it can be utilized in our daily lives during a school day for our academic success.
Cognitive psychology teaches us that to create long-term memories, we have to make our material and ideas personally meaningful to us. This is accomplished by associating knowledge with other concepts or activities we have experienced. Jane Bonbright, a researcher for the National Dance Education Organization, notes that retention can also be facilitated and catalyzed by incorporating more areas of the brain in the initial encoding process for establishing long-term memories. Because dance can combine all of these psychological concepts and provide as an active and engaging learning system for children, it has the ability to be a great device for not only teaching children of young ages but for establishing well-suited academic habits in its students. Although it may seem a bit hasty, or even a bit radical, we should start considering dance as a way to facilitate brain development and the creation of higher retention rates among young learners.
In Jamie Steele’s research study for the Journal of Dance Education, she focused on the academic success of a fifth-grade class learning about different means of energy through dance. Steele not only found that the students left the class with greater communication skills from the group assignment but the students were able to, “...explain (1) visually through diagrams, (2) kinesthetically through dances, (3) verbally through explanation, and (4) manually through a [hands on project]." In this sense, Steele discovered what researchers like Bonright have recently uncovered: that dance can combine many of the essential skills needed by modern young students to succeed, while also being able to allow children to learn via an active format that enables the brain to facilitate the creation of long-term memory.
Needless to say, dance has some untapped benefits for young learners that most of us did not even realize. Knowing this, we must question: why haven’t all schools utilized dance education or other active learning methods like it so that students may reap its benefits? While traditional learning methods are often effective, I argue that experimenting with the use of active learning systems, like dance, may allow students to reach an untapped potential that will enable them to have better academic success. As Dr. Adrienne Sansom writes, “[Dance] is a modality [that] helps us gain knowledge through the body and grasp the essence of learning from within, connecting to ourselves in the deepest, most direct ways.” If we take Dr. Sansom’s sentiment and learn to apply it to an upcoming generation of learners, not only will they be able to make deep connections to their content, but they may be able to see inward and discover the value of meaningful learning.
Madeleine Cope has been a student at Episcopal since Pre-K and is currently a high school senior. In addition to her involvement with the Honors Thesis program, Madeleine participates in Episcopal’s Dance Ensemble, acts as Co-Choreographer for Episcopal’s Lower and Middle School musical productions, participates in Episcopal theatre productions, and is a Math Tutor for Episcopal’s Math Center. Her thesis revolves around the concept of utilizing new education methods, especially those involving dance education and active learning environments.
Senior Thesis Student and Oboist, Lauren Smith, shares ideas from her thesis, arguing for more inclusive and diverse classical arts, which would allow all children to see themselves represented on the stage.
Music has the ability to touch the souls of individuals and move the masses. It has been at the center of social revolutions, and its captivating nature has withstood the test of time. We are fortunate here at Episcopal to have access to many art forms and opportunities. It was here where I first became a musician, picked up an instrument, and had the opportunity to join a musical ensemble.
A particular genre that has truly revolutionized almost all music that we hear today is classical music. Without it, the world would be quite a dull place. “Classical music” is a broad and insufficient term used to describe a plethora of music types, and sometimes we tend to forget that. Its elements exist in your favorite songs and movies, and surprisingly, it even played a tremendous role in the innovation of hip-hop and pop music.
The “orchestra hit” is one of the most used samples in pop and hip-hop music. Its sound takes the form of a musical bang that draws the audience in and helps drive the song’s beat. The orchestra hit was originally sampled in the early 1980s by Peter Vogel, the same person that created one of the first sampling and sequencing synthesizers in the mid-1970s. This sample was from Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird, which was originally scored in 1910. The particular moment in Firebird that the orchestra hit was sampled from was at the beginning of a scene called “Danse Infernale du Roi Kastchei.”
Though classical music may be everywhere, when it is performed in its traditional essence, it is quite exclusive. The full glory and splendor of classical music is not available for everyone to enjoy freely. There are a plethora of reasons supporting why classical music is indefinitely reserved for people of a certain demographic, but the stigmas attached to the music type as well as socioeconomic, historical, and psychological factors all play a role in why this art form is still so rooted in a traditionalistic mindset, despite the progressiveness of other art forms.
People love to have role models, especially when they look like us. Where the problem lies in classical music is that there are not enough role models for black and brown artists. Yes, there are some, but the amount is miniscule. In solely American orchestras as of 2016, less than 1.8% of participants were black and less than 2.5% were Hispanic. That amount is even less for ethnic participants when assessed on a global scale, especially considering that classical music, as most recognize it, is originally from the Eastern Hemisphere of the world, particularly Europe, although it has rhythmic and percussive influences as well as modal influences from Africa and Asia.
When I was much younger, I loved to watch performances of the Berlin Philharmonic, one of the world’s leading orchestras. The performances I watched on YouTube most definitely contributed to my ever-growing love for classical music. As much as I looked up to each and every performer, particularly the oboists and the conductors, I always found it difficult to truly see myself playing among them, let alone conducting the musicians, as an adult. I felt so distanced from the classical musicians that passionately played their instruments on my computer screen.
Yes, it was and is a dream of mine, but I never saw anyone else that looked like me to demonstrate that it was a legitimate possibility.
Classical music is expensive. Buying instruments (many of which cost thousands of dollars), the materials needed to play (e.g., reeds, ligatures, tools), and paying for lessons are some examples of the tedious expenses required to be considered as a classical instrumentalist. For musicians coming from underserved communities, which are oftentimes densely populated by people of color, receiving a musical education of the same caliber of their mostly white counterparts is especially difficult due to the prominent socioeconomic disadvantages.
As human beings, we all have preferences, whether implicit or explicit. When it comes to viewing performers on a stage, due to general social psychology that has been influenced and molded by history and racist justifications, if a ballet or symphony is being performed, the performers are expected to be white. So much so that the very principles of ballet performance are centered around identicality and the reference is a white-skinned, fairy-like performer. Even in symphonic performances, visual aesthetic preferences may lead people to expect a stage composed of similar looking people due to the art forms’ emphasis on symmetry and synchronization.
Diversifying the arts, specifically classical music is essential to its growth and ultimately its survival. The traditional aura surrounding classical music as it relates to what type of people are the dominant performers and observers is counterintuitive to the definition of art. Art is a “diverse” range of creative activities, but in classical art that is still performed today, the diversity element is inadequate. Diversifying classical music does not necessarily mean contemporizing the music itself, but rather taking measures to make it more inclusive for all individuals, especially because it is such a powerful medium of expression that can be life-changing for anybody no matter their skin color.
Lauren Smith has been an Episcopal student since Kindergarten, and she is currently a high school senior. She is a member of the Honors Thesis Program, and her thesis addresses the lack of representation in classical art forms, specifically in classical music and ballet, and how in order for the arts to progress, diversity is a necessity. Lauren is an avid participant in the arts. She is in Episcopal’s Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Jazz Band, the Louisiana Youth Orchestra, and a variety of other ensembles. Lauren is also an Episcopal athlete who has participated in numerous sports over the years, and she plays multiple other instruments aside from the oboe, including the piano, saxophone, and clarinet.
Episcopal student artists are sharing the joy of the season with song, dance and music. Here's a look at recent festivities on campus and throughout the Baton Rouge community.
Photos provided by Episcopal senior Mason LaFerney.
Beyond Woodland Ridge
Congratulations to Episcopal students who are sharing their art with the Greater Baton Rouge community.
"The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack."
Lower and Middle School students will become wolves, monkeys, vultures and elephants as they take the stage for the upcoming production of Jungle Book Junior. Audiences will be transported to the jungles of India as students explore this classic tale of a human child raised by animals. As is customary with theater productions at Episcopal, viewers will be asking themselves – how did they do this?
For ten weeks now, students and faculty have spent countless hours together learning lines and practicing movements. Families have provided support, snacks and car rides to and from the VPAC throughout the entire process. Elaborate sets have been created and costumes have been ordered. Along the way, a remarkable thing has occurred.
The 2018 Jungle Book “pack” has been formed. This pack is comprised of students from all divisions and all backgrounds. Lower School Music Teacher Tricia Delony and Theater Director Paige Gagliano say students are getting to know each other as they serve as mentors, coaches and cheerleaders for their cast mates. This can be seen as seventh graders compliment third graders for a job well done or as young students aspire to be more like their older counterparts. Delony and Gagliano emphasize that the students are part of a whole, with each role and each performer important to the community’s success.
An Episcopal theater production is an empowering experience for student actors. Delony says as the performers learn their lines and grow to own their character, the story truly comes alive. “They become comfortable enough to dig deep and do what comes naturally,” she says. This sense of empowerment is also allowing students to share their culture with their cast mates. Eighth grader Nidhi Sthanki has choreographed the opening song as a celebration of her Indian culture. Delony and Gagliano say Sthanki has taken pride in working with her cast mates and enjoyed the process of sharing a part of herself with others.
Gagliano says theater productions are also a celebration of the learning process and that process can be messy. “Mistakes are ok,” she says. “We want the performers to stop being afraid of making a mistake.” Gagliano says even as students stumble on lines, they are gaining life skills as they move on and try again, proving that even mistakes are a bare necessity of learning.
A majority of the Jungle Book performers are athletes, academics and artists. Delony and Gagliano say having the freedom to explore multiple interests creates the well-rounded child at the heart of the Episcopal mission. In addition, these empowered actors and actresses are developing the sense of responsibility required to juggle multiple interests at one time. For example, Gagliano says students are communicating with each other about what they may have missed in the event of a scheduling conflict and some have asked to come in even if they are not on the rehearsal schedule to make up missed practice time.
In a play that explores themes of love, kindness and acceptance of others, these young performers are naturally gaining confidence, empathy and understanding. “That’s what art does. It teaches us lessons,” says Gagliano. Once the curtain closes on the 2018 Jungle Book pack, students will be left with a lasting sense of community. Audiences will know that the performances, which appear effortless for such young students, were actually the result of hard work, hours of preparation and a commitment of many to the success of the pack. That is simply how an Episcopal theater production is done.
Make plans to attend Jungle Book Junior! Click here to purchase tickets for performances that run November 12th through 15th.
The annual Fall All School Student Art Show is now on display in the VPAC lobby. The exhibition features students in all three divisions and a variety of mediums. “The vitality of the art work displayed in the VPAC lobby for the 2018 All School Fall show from the three divisions is engaging and surprising,” says art teacher Kate Trepagnier. Trepagnier and art teachers Caroline Hagan and Russell Roper hope members of the Episcopal community will stop by and enjoy the creativity on display.
Episcopal students enjoy a wide range of artistic opportunities. Students can explore painting, drawing, photography, pottery, sculpture, mixed media and digital arts. Such diversity of choice in the arts is a key component of an Episcopal education and a necessary complement to the learning taking place in the traditional classroom.
Project-Based Learning in the Arts
According to the National Art Education Association (NAEA), the arts teach students that problems may have more than one solution and that varying perspectives should be celebrated. Art encourages critical thinking skills that have significant application to more traditional classroom subjects. Roper says art projects truly are a project-based learning experience.
One example of a project-based art experience is taking place in Roper’s Upper School Sculpture class. Students are tasked with determining what type of monument they would erect on Episcopal’s campus. To really get students thinking, Roper tasks students with completing a monument application similar to what a city council might require. Once students determine their theme, they conduct a site analysis, an elevation plan and a financial estimate for the project. After the planning process is complete, students construct a model of the monument using the best media for their design. In the end, students have a complete proposal that required significant research, planning and analysis, in addition to artistic abilities.
Digital Art Opportunities
“The addition of digital imaging has expanded what we do,” says Roper. The Episcopal art teachers are veterans with a passion for sharing their craft. These artists and Episcopal have embraced new technologies and the new forms of art associated with them. Dianne Madden, who teaches digital design and photography classes, brings more traditional art forms into the digital age. Students in the Communication Design class created posters promoting the art show and eighth grade Digital Photography students have a number of their works on display. In addition, students in Roper’s eighth grade class worked on a series of assignments on animals using Photoshop to transform traditional drawings into digital recreations of the creatures as comic book superheroes. Another popular assignment among seventh graders is the study of themselves in a number of self portrait assignments. For the first nine weeks of school, students use their own image as their muse as they explored color theory using the Brushes app to create digital selfies. A sample of these digital selfies and superheroes are on display in the current exhibition.
Art as Expression
“Art develops critical and diverse thinkers by promoting the solving of open-ended questions. It is the goal of our program to set the groundwork for each student to appreciate art as the language of the soul,” says Hagan, who is guiding students through art projects connected to the Lower School Community Read of Wishtree. The Episcopal artistic process provides students numerous opportunities to express themselves. Roper says he often reminds students that “artists are meaning makers” as he helps them establish a title for their work based on what they are trying to convey. To determine a title, students are asked to reflect on their project, the revisions they have made and the journey they have experienced. These reflections are written down and used to help give insight into the final product.
The Fall All School Student Art Show will provide observers a glimpse inside the Episcopal artistic experience, with everything from PreK-4 watercolor pieces to Upper School AP student paintings. Large paper mache works exploring ice cream, French fries and pizza will be food for thought for visitors, while the digital selfies and sculptures should not be missed. The exhibit will be on display through the end of October.
Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate the arts at Episcopal.
For members of the school’s Dance Master Seminar the answer is simple. “Without the arts my experience wouldn’t be the same.” “Arts are everything to me.” “The arts give us an outlet we don’t have in regular class.” “I took no art classes last year and I felt dead. With dance classes this year I feel more like myself.”
The arts, and more specifically dance, are powerful for students of all ages and all backgrounds. Research collected by the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) shows that “dance has a positive impact on student achievement, teacher satisfaction and school culture.” NDEO offers the following specific examples of the positive impacts of dance:
Episcopal dancers are quite familiar with these benefits. In fact, senior Madeleine Cope is currently working on a thesis examining the benefits of implementing dance at schools. Through her own research and experience, Cope says she has found that dance also boosts verbal and non-verbal communication skills. She equates learning dance with learning a new language as dancers hone these skills and learn what it means to be present and engaged in the moment.
There are also the emotional benefits that are garnered from dance. Watching members of the master seminar perform in the dance studio without the frills of stage lighting, costumes or professional sound, you feel the emotions of the dancers. These teenage performers are strong, powerful and fully focused on their movements and the message they are conveying to the audience. There is passion in each twirl and joy in each leap. The students are poised, graceful and expressive beyond their age.
Within the studio, students are comfortable enough to be vulnerable with their expressions. They celebrate each other’s success and provide positive, constructive feedback with the goal of helping their fellow dancers. Most of these students have been dancing since they were preschool age and many of them perform with multiple ensembles. In reflecting on the Episcopal arts experience, the dancers say the school provides a more loving and supportive atmosphere in which students can flourish. “This is a community here.” “We’re different, but that’s ok.”
Such cohesion could only be achieved in a nurturing, caring environment. That environment is cultivated by dance teacher Christine Chrest, who is now in her fourth year at the helm of the Episcopal dance program. When watching this professional dancer interact with her teenage protégées one thing becomes abundantly clear – Chrest truly cares about her students and wants them to be successful in whatever they do. This passion and Chrest’s expertise make the Episcopal dance program truly special.
For members of the Dance Master Seminar, dance is a lifelong commitment. Many of the current students have aspirations of pursuing a major or minor in dance once high school is over. As part of the seminar class, Chrest guides students through the process of creating their own choreography and writing scholarship essays to compete for spots in university dance programs. Chrest is like a proud mom as she reports on the success of Episcopal dance program participants thus far. Alumna Emma Scott Singletary ’17 is currently dancing at Elon University and former Episcopal dancer Azha Alston ’17 is studying dance at LSU.
As Chrest puts it, dance lights a fire within students that transcends the studio. Students are motivated to study, achieve and excel in the classroom because they are consumed by their passion and creativity. At Episcopal, there is a marriage of the arts and academics that truly helps students learn more about themselves and the life they want to live. It is one thing to say that arts are integral to a well-rounded education, but it is another to witness the focus and determination in the dancers’ eyes as they express themselves in such a vulnerable way. The art of dance has opened students’ minds to different possibilities and perspectives that are helping them define who they are today and where they want to go tomorrow.
Don't miss your chance to see the Episcopal dancers in action.
Traditionally, schools are filled with trophies and plaques commemorating the achievements of sports teams and outstanding scholars. Thanks to Episcopal’s longstanding commitment to the arts, young artists also have an opportunity to have their achievements recognized.
Each year, the Episcopal art teachers select artwork from a rising fifth grader, a rising eighth grader and a graduating senior to add to the school’s permanent student art exhibit. Stroll through the VPAC and you’ll see seven years’ worth of student creations proudly and prominently displayed. The works feature everything from mixed media and acrylic to charcoal and graphite. The colors are vibrant and unexpected or simply black and white. Overall, there is a sense of maturity and sophistication that belies the students’ age.
Upper School art teacher Kate Trepagnier says for art students being selected for the school’s permanent exhibit is like earning that trophy or having their name listed on that plaque. As a show of true support for the arts, Episcopal actually purchases each piece from the students. Trepagnier says doing this demonstrates to these young artists “that their work is of value to the school and that they should value their work themselves.”
This year’s artists were recently honored at a luncheon in Head of School Hugh McIntosh’s office. Senior Lundyn Herring, Middle School student Arya Patel and Lower School student Allie Fain were all excited, and maybe even a little surprised, that their pieces are being celebrated in such a meaningful manner.
This tradition stays true to the school’s mission to develop the whole child – spiritually, intellectually, morally, physically and artistically. Episcopal truly is a place with something for every student. It was with this mission and this appreciation for the school’s unique culture that Trepagnier and former Associate Head of School Jason Hubbard initiated the student art exhibit in 2011.
The Episcopal student art exhibition is an enduring celebration of individual student contributions. It is an opportunity for students to share a piece of themselves with the school they love. Congratulations to this year’s honorees and thank you for sharing your work with others.
The story of Evangeline depicts a strong woman who trusts her own heart and remains committed to a dream, refusing to settle for less despite the challenges and obstacles this presents. Such a compelling character leaves a lasting impression on the audience as they experience first-hand her lifetime of waiting and hoping. But what is it like to be Evangeline?
first performance fueled her love of theater and she knew she had discovered her niche.
Upon graduation Ashley thanked her family for providing her with the Episcopal experience and headed off to Belmont University with a sense of promise and purpose. At Belmont East in New York, Ashley attended classes in the Empire State Building and interned at MTV Studios in Times Square. She dedicated herself to her studies and spent long hours at the studio gaining real-world experience. With such passion and commitment, she graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in business administration focusing on music and production. Ashley’s hard work also earned her a job with MTV right out of college as the Studio Coordinator for shows such as Total Request Live, MTV News and the annual New Year’s Eve Special. She says she truly loved the work and the opportunity to meet celebrities such as Madonna, Stevie Wonder and Green Day. Her 100 percent commitment to the dream had truly paid off.
follow her heart, something quite unexpected occurred. The state of Louisiana got into the film industry. This meant Ashley, with her years of experience in the entertainment business, could come home to be with her love, while remaining true to her dream.
Ashley remembers back to her early relationship with Travis, who just happens to be a Cajun, and who had never seen the story of Evangeline. She brought Travis to the show’s ten year anniversary run at Playmakers. Travis, like most others who see it, was moved by the story of love and loss and waiting. In fact, he was so moved by the production that while walking out of the theater, the two decided right then and there that if they ever had a daughter her name would be Evangeline.
Evangeline Ann Fabre was born in May of 2013. Following her heart back to Baton Rouge was truly worth it for Ashley, having married Travis in August of 2009. Soon, their second daughter Adelaide Mary was born in April of 2015. Ashley worked in the Baton Rouge film industry for ten years, including 25 productions for networks like Syfy and Lifetime. She enjoyed the work, but eventually the 16 hour days proved to be too much for this wife and mom.
To focus more on her family, Ashley broke into the world of development at the Manship Theater. Later, in November of 2017 she was named the Director of Development for the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, whose mission is to foster the creative capacity and vibrancy of the capital region through advocacy, resources, and education. For Ashley, sharing her love of art has helped her come full circle, back to where it all began. Her new role has given her the opportunity to reconnect with the very people she first met on the Episcopal stage as a third grade lip sync performer years ago.
As the 20th anniversary of Evangeline draws near, Ashley feels a connection with the lead as strong as ever. Like Evangeline she never settled for less, she made her own decisions regarding her life and she trusted her heart to lead the way. Ashley looks back on her time at Episcopal and says the experience and the people here have made her who she is today.
She remembers former theater director Danny Tiberghein’s poster that said “Why be Normal?” and reflects daily on his influence. Each day she hopes to make him proud. She credits current theater director Paige Gagliano with instilling in her a sense of purpose as she helped bring meaning to the scripts they performed. She remembers Bible study with Mrs. Johanna Leonard and the sense of community and faith that Episcopal created for her.
When asked what advice this original Evangeline has for today’s Evangeline, Ashley offers this:
“Enjoy the ride. It’s so special to be on that stage and to be a part of that community.” Ashley also hopes the current Evangeline will take the experience with her wherever she goes, similar to how Ashley has done since first portraying the role.
Ashley Day Fabre has crafted a life that she loves, while remaining true to herself. She lives by the motto “Everything happens for a reason”. Looking back it’s easy to see that everything that happened led her to her biggest, most rewarding roles – wife, mom and passionate arts promoter.
Congratulations Ashley. Evangeline would be proud!
The 20th anniversary run of “Evangeline” begins this weekend. Click here to purchase your tickets today!
"Evangeline” is Louisiana’s tale. Since the story was first told on the Greer Center stage here at Episcopal 20 years ago, it has become a defining piece for so many. The tale of long lost love set in the midst of the Acadian exile has impacted the lives of Episcopal families for a generation. Today’s cast is comprised of the children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends of those who have played the parts before them. For some, every member of the family has portrayed the same part and worn the same costume. It is a legacy that can only truly be told where it all began, by the people who created it.
Living in Louisiana and married to a Cajun local, Episcopal Band Director Paul Taranto felt compelled to share the story of the Acadians’ banishment from Nova Scotia in a way that would connect the audience with their plight. Having read the epic poem by Longfellow, Taranto began writing the songs and composing the music that would set the scene for Evangeline and her love Gabriel. The two were ripped apart the night of their betrothal as the King of England claimed their village of Grand-Pre. The musical follows the life of Evangeline as she stays true and faithful to the only man she ever loved. She never gives up and never doubts the commitment the couple forged the night before her home was burned, and so many of her loved ones were lost. Ultimately, she makes her way to the heart of the bayou, which becomes the new home of the Acadians.
Taranto initially teamed up with Episcopal Drama Teacher Danny Tiberghein and later Baton Rouge actor Jamie Wax to transform the story of Evangeline into a theater production. In November of 1998, this moving tale was first performed as a concert piece. The full musical came to life on March 24,1999, under the direction of Performing Arts Director Paige Gagliano. What resulted was a story that features the unbreakable spirit of humankind. “Evangeline” reminds the audience not to lose hope and that yes, the wait is worth it, if you are waiting for the right thing.
“Evangeline” proved to have a spirit all its own. It was more than just a play and its message truly hit home for those involved when they were dealt an unexpected tragedy. Before the play was ever complete, Tiberghein was killed, leaving a hole among the theater department staff that’s still felt today. As a result of this, the initial run was dedicated in Tiberghein’s memory. “We knew it was ordained. We knew it was bigger than all of us because it wasn’t about any one of us,” says Gagliano.
However, the story of “Evangeline” was just getting started. After LSU, LPB inquired about the production. The network wanted to broadcast the musical across the entire state of Louisiana. Again, Taranto, Gagliano and the Episcopal students were thrust onto a new and exciting stage and there was much more to come. There was a television recording done on the Strand Theatre stage in Shreveport and the performance was shared statewide, from Acadiana to New Orleans to Monroe. There were performances in Lafayette and visits to St. Martinville. There were CD recordings and local performances. CC Lockwood visited the cast and then-governor Kathleen Blanco met with the creators. Eventually, PBS picked up the performance and the story was broadcast to 46 states across the country.
Taranto’s vision of telling a tale that would connect with audiences has certainly become a reality. “Evangeline” has a dedicated following and elicits a deep passion that is still felt 20 years later. The play has been performed everywhere from Theatre Baton Rouge to Phoenix, Arizona to Nova Scotia, where the story originated so many years ago. The actors have spoken English and French and have included Broadway performers, amateurs and always, children. Everywhere the audiences have cried and laughed and ultimately risen to their feet with applause and praise.
“Evangeline” has such staying power because of its lasting message. It’s not only a story of long lost love, but also of faith, hope and promise. The story attempts to help people make sense of the world, regardless of the challenges that eventually befall us. It reminds us to keep going and keep believing and working toward our goals and ideals, even when they may seem out of reach or out of focus. Such faith and hope simply resonates with casts and audiences no matter the location, the language or the year.
And to think it all began with a cast of students from a school on Woodland Ridge in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It all started from the musings of a talented and inspired band teacher who wanted to honor his wife’s heritage. It was crafted in honor of and in memory of someone who was passionate about theater and teaching students. It was and is for us all.
Don’t miss your opportunity to see where “Evangeline” takes you.
“Evangeline” is set to return to the Episcopal stage in honor of its 20 year anniversary. The show will run March 17th through March 24th. Tickets go on sale soon. All Episcopal alumni and previous “Evangeline” performers are invited to the closing night performance, which will feature a special opportunity to join today’s cast singing “Worth the Wait” on stage. Afterwards, a reception for alumni and cast will be held.
“You make the music to share the music.”
Band Director Paul Taranto and the gold jazz band shared their musical talents at the annual jazz-on-the-deck concert this week. The 10th, 11th and 12th graders played a range of songs featuring several soloists and a strong ensemble sound.
Taranto says performing music is all about fun and that was definitely the case on the deck. As the older students were hitting the high notes and keeping the beat, the patio was filled with students from Lower School. The youngsters enjoyed dancing, snapping and clapping along. Where else but at a school that educates students from preK-3 to 12th grade could this happen?
This week’s performance is just one example of how the band is sharing their music with others. Since August they have also delighted audiences at St Luke’s, Trinity, Dufroq Elementary and Episcopal’s Lower School during morning meeting. In addition to touring, the students even made a group recording at Cedar Park recording studio.
Several Episcopal performers are finding additional ways to share their love of music. Kenny Schaffer, who hopes to someday become a composer, wrote an original composition over the summer. Laura Kurtz arranged a pop tune for a jazz ensemble. Lauren Smith was accepted as a member of the Louisiana Youth Orchestra on oboe for the second year running.
The band department will wrap up its performance season next week with their annual Christmas concert featuring Christmas favorites played by the sixth grade beginners, the seventh grade advanced students and the Upper School Wind Ensemble. We invite you to attend their concert as well as a seasonal performance by the choir.
SAVE THE DATE
Lessons and Carols - December 5th at 7 pm in the Chapel
Jazz Band Christmas concert - December 7th at 7 pm in the VPAC