Every year, East Lansing High School proudly presents the Collage performance, consisting of a combination concert of all the performing art programs in the school. Tomorrow night, Saturday, December 9, will mark the thirty-fifth year of this local tradition.
After individual performances by the High School orchestras, bands, color guard, theatre, jazz ensemble, choir, and others, the stage will be packed with over 300 students—about one-quarter of the students attending the school—for the grand finale.
This year, featuring tunes such as “All You Need Is Love” and “Hey Jude,” the finale will provide a recognizable and easy sing-along theme: “A Beatles Medley.” In keeping with the musical theme, students will be dressing up sixties-style for the last performance of the show.
The annual Collage performance requires intense planning and collaboration between the three major music programs—band, orchestra, and choir—with careful attention paid to the ordering and timing of performances so that everything moves smoothly.
This year, veteran teachers David Larzelere (band) and David Rosin (orchestra) are working with new choir teacher Eric Cadena and new theatre teacher Adam Woolsey.
Cadena has been instructing the choir students in preparation for Collage, but has also been coaching many orchestra and band members who are choosing to sing for the finale. (The stage will be saturated with the setup of band, orchestra, and percussion instruments, so it makes sense for some instrumental performers to switch to voice for the finale.)
Elijah Hoene, a junior in the ELHS choir, gave a view to the choir’s preparation for Saturday’s performance: “Having a new director and having lost a lot of very strong singers last year, it’s been a rough start, but we’re finally getting back into things.” Said Hoene, “We’re doing some Christmas songs and hymns, and of course the Beatles Medley with the band and orchestra, which actually sounds really good since it’s all pop songs.”
With three concert bands and two jazz bands performing pieces this year, the band is well represented. Members have been very busy preparing for both Saturday’s performances and the bands’ Winter Concert on December 14 (next Thursday).
Tomorrow, four orchestras will perform, including Concert Orchestra, Symphonic Orchestra, Full Orchestra (string and wind instruments combined), and Encore Strings.
Joy Li, a senior viola player in Symphonic Orchestra and Encore Strings, commented on Collage from the strings’ perspective: “We like to pick music that’s a little more reflective of the finale. This year for Encore we chose a Beatles song.” Said Li, “I really do like the fact that it shows [that] the world of these performing arts aren’t so far apart. Whether you play an instrument, are in theater or choir, we’re all there to put on a performance.”
In previous years, the finale theme has sometimes been light-hearted, as when the theme was TV sitcom theme songs and featured “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” rap, the “Modern Family” opening song, and the familiar theme song “I’ll Be there For You” from “Friends.”
Yet the finale has also sometimes been powerful and heartrending, as when its theme was the “Road to Equality,” focusing on the oppression African-Americans have endured through American history and the movement for full civil rights.
Regardless, the finale is always memorable, to the point of being an annual institution in East Lansing.
A flutist in the Wind Ensemble and Full Orchestra, High School senior Abby Seal reflects on what she enjoys about the annual event: “I just love seeing all the different kinds of performances and talents people have.” Remarks Seal, “It really shows the diversity of the school.”
Tonight, the High School will be open for the Collage Coffeehouse from 7 to 9 p.m. Visitors can stop by the cafeteria to see art produced by students in many media and can hear individual and small-group performances by students. The Coffeehouse is very informal, and drop-by visits are welcome.
The 2017 Collage concert will be this Saturday, December 9, starting at 7:30 p.m. at East Lansing High School’s auditorium. The event typically draws a large audience.