A magnificent Magnet Arts Night

Feb. 13, 2005, midnight | By Christopher Consolino | 19 years, 3 months ago

Students dazzle and amaze

Sophomore Merlyn Deng performs "Fisherman Sings at Dusk" on the Chinese Harp with junior June Hu (not pictured). Photo courtesy of Christopher Consolino.

A hush falls over the crowd as sophomore Merlyn Deng and junior June Hu daintily pluck the strings of their Chinese harps. As the lucid melody and intricate harmonies flow throughout the piece, crescendos and torrents of notes overpower simple passages, foreshadowing the elegant brilliance and perfection of Magnet Arts Night 2005, which was held on Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium.

As the trills fade away and the lively rhythm grows fainter, Masters of Ceremonies seniors Amanda Lee, Katherine Zhang and Bill McManigle and freshman Vijay Baharani come out from the stage's dark side wings to briefly describe the Magnet Program in a witty jingle-like poem and introduce the first act.

Kicking off the main program and showcasing their precise choreography, senior Seema Kacker, juniors Kiran Belani and Jahnavi Bhaskar, sophomores Anjana Mohanty, Monika Chadda and Anjali Parekh and freshmen Jasleen Salwan and Poorva Singal performed Bhangra, an Indian folk dance. Full of movement, spinning and saturated colors, the folk dance was nothing short of surreal. The vibrant background, tastefully provided by the stage crew, created silhouettes of the performers which added to the impressive nature of the dance's choreography and use of lighting.

Junior Kiran Belani (blue) and sophomore Anjali Parekh (green) perform Bhangra, a traditional Indian folk dance. Photo courtesy of Christopher Consolino.

The tone then abruptly shifted as the emcees got the show rolling by introducing freshman Christina Zou on the piano. Although the Blair auditorium fell quite short of the Carnegie Hall and White House's splendor (locations of Zou's previous recitals), Zou presented the audience with an exquisite performance of "Paraphrase on Tchaikovsky's Flower Waltz," arranged by Percy Granger. The musical piece, full of expressive chromatic progressions, was filled with the vigor intrinsic of Tchaikovky's waltzes and "The Nutcracker Ballet." From the first chord to the last rolling arpeggio, Zou was able to establish herself not only as possibly one of the greatest pianists in Montgomery County but also as one who truly understands musical passion.

Wrapped in a blanket of culture and music, Magnet Arts Night was able to flawlessly transition from scene to scene with the help of the stage crew. After finishing an impassioned performance, Zou left the stage as "Green Eggs and Sam" took the spotlight, singing a delightful a cappella arrangement of "Stand by Me." Then, after another witty interlude by the emcees, juniors Jeremy Goodman and Ravi Joseph launched into Frank Zappa's "Peaches en Regalia," a steady, mellow tune that lingered on the stage long after the song ended.

Junior Brian Nieh sings "Ocean Avenue" by "Yellowcard." Photo courtesy of Christopher Consolino.

The performance of "One Two step" was another interesting work of choreography by Scene 7, but no pop song could prepare the audience for the heavenly sounds of freshman Chao Xue's "Variations on 'Air for Strings.'" It was musical bliss. At first the melody was somber, almost tragic: a violin hovering longingly above the weight of a piano accompaniment. Yet this phantasmal tune had a heavenly sound provided by Xue himself, gracefully carrying the haunting melody through sprightly passages then back into the catacombs before the piece was cut off all together, leaving the audience yearning for more.

As quickly as the audience could have mistaken the auditorium for the Kennedy Center, the stately hall morphed into an outdoor rock concert with a lively performance of "Ocean Avenue." Juniors Joseph Dario and Mimi Zou then continued Act I with a charming rendition of "All I Ask of You" from The Phantom of the Opera. Following this duet, nothing could prepare the audience for the comical display of magnet seniors flying around the stage in the meticulously choreographed "Senior 05: Ping Pong Matrix." However, just when the audience was ready to move on to Act II, it was already intermission.

Magnets perform a traditional Chinese ribbon dance. Photo courtesy of Christopher Consolino.

Even during the break from musical performances, parents were able to admire students' artwork in a small display just outside the auditorium doors, which the unsuspecting would have mistaken to be a miniature National Gallery.

Act II, which was just as enjoyable as Act I, began with another delightful prelude, this time on the piano with David Hu playing "Sakura," a traditional Japanese folk song. Among the notable performances were The Johnson File performing "Sunshine of Your Love," which was cleverly introduced by Lee and McManigle in costume, and seniors John Chai, Randy Li and Albert Tsao playing "Trio Number Four" by Luigi Boccherini. The audience was also treated to another display of Blair's rising vocal talents when InToneNation took the stage singing junior Nathan Blustein's brilliant vocal arrangement of "I'm Gonna Be" by The Proclaimers.

The second act also had a touch of Asian culture, which began with the graceful, intricately choreographed Chinese cultural ribbon dance saturated with detailed costumes, weightless, flowing ribbons and another set of vivid background colors courtesy of stage crew. This act was later followed by a breathtaking demonstration of Chinese wushu, which demonstrated the magnet program's weapons of choice in a rapid blur of hands and swords.

Seniors Ana Karimi and David Crawford swing to the beat of "Sing, Sing, Sing." Photo courtesy of Christopher Consolino.

Although some might have expected the show to end on a soft note after the sentimental performance by OHAYO of "Bai Tian Bu Dong Ye de Hei," the auditorium was taken on a trip back to the golden age of swing dancing with a magnificent arrangement by Greg Comstock of "Sing, Sing, Sing," performed by Skosh. In a rush of hard-hitting notes and a flare of glittering brass, Blair was swept away by seniors David Crawford and Ana Karimi's fancy foot work during the piece, astounding the audience with their swing dancing, proving that science teacher Robert Donaldson really did save the best for last.

The extravagant night, however, ended on a bittersweet note as former magnets joined with "InToneNation" singing "Material Girl" in a tribute to Donaldson's last year directing Magnet Arts Night. As the audience began to depart after seemingly endless applause, performers took to the halls for some well-deserved compliments on their magnificent performances, which made this Magnet Arts Night a night to remember.

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Christopher Consolino. Christopher Consolino is a senior in Communication Arts Program. If Chris had free time, he would spend it practicing piano and taking pictures with his 15 year-old Minolta. He would also like to stress how much better wet process photography is than digital. Most of … More »

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