School House Rocked!
“Bach and Rock 2” was presented at Montgomery Area High School on Tuesday, March 3, to a wildly enthusiastic crowd. The performers were high school students from Virtuoso (the high school’s musical theatre ensemble) and the Vocal Workshop class. The singers were accompanied by a live band made up of faculty and staff members.
The evening opened with the “Bach” portion of the show, a series of six classical and traditional pieces. The students did exceptionally well with the demanding selections, most of them sang in foreign languages. The vocal recital then transitioned into a full-blown rock concert as the talented teens sang well-loved classic rock songs. The theme was “’80s Hair Bands” and the multi-generational audience ranging from small children to senior citizens absolutely loved it. Many audience members clapped along to the faster songs and even sang along during the chorus of “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”
March is “Music in Our Schools Month” and the high school has acknowledged it for a long time with activities for the students, but in the past few years there have been special events that were open to the public. In 2017 they presented “Surface” which was a deeply touching presentation of original student-written musical performances and readings. In 2018 they presented “Singing on the Edge,” which was a vocal recital featuring school-appropriate songs from Broadway musicals that would normally be deemed too controversial to be performed in a public school. In 2019, “Bach and Rock” that was so well-received it was brought back this year by popular demand.
Senior Breanna Gardner opened the show with the operatic piece “Quella fiamma” and later sang “Welcome to the Jungle.” She said after the show that she has been preparing for the recital since close to the beginning of the school year. “This being my first Bach and Rock Experience, it was unreal. I’ve never felt such an out-of-body experience on the stage. I wasn’t myself up there,” she laughed. “I’m not used to rock at all. I’m used to musical theatre. I had to get my voice trained and ready for Guns ‘n Roses. It was a lot of fun though.”
All of the students as well the faculty and staff members in the band presented the audience with an evening of incredible entertainment. The crew members did a great job with the lighting, sound, and technology that enhanced the show. Virtuoso is co-directed by Carina McNear and Jessica Carpenter.
After the show McNear was asked what she found most rewarding about the recital. She answered, “We took the best from the first year and expanded on it, made improvements and continued to encourage the kids to challenge themselves.” She further commented, “A huge thank you to the school and community for support of this event and continued kudos to our amazing kids for their work ethic and willingness to be versatile in their performing.”
While the students and the audience had an absolute blast, the evening proved to be much more than a celebration of music education. Admission was free, and donation cans were set up for the school’s Mini-thon to raise money to fight against pediatric cancer. The event raised $450.
The vocal performances were as follows:
“Quella fiamma” Breanna Gardner
“Sento Nel core” Addi Heasley
“Se to m’ami” McKenzie Heasley
“Orpheus With His Lute” Gavin Rine
“Danny Boy” Bradyn Foresman
“Con te partiro” Laura Ulrich
“For Whom the Bell Tolls” Ava Peluso (The song was opened with a recording of Paul Bozella, an English teacher and head football coach, reading the poem “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by John Donne).
“Crazy Train” Catalin Torok
“Barracuda” Laura Ulrich
“Sweet Child O Mine” Jewels Tawney, backed by Dylan Ring and Gabe McNear
“Every Rose Has Its Thorn” Avery Jessell backed by Laura Ulrich
“Here I Go Again” Bradyn Foresman backed by Breanna Gardner
“You Give Love a Bad Name” McKenzie Heasley backed by Julia Stetts
“To Be with You” Skye McGrath backed by Ava Peluso
“Eye of the Tiger” Duet by Hayden Ross and Addi Heasley
“We’re Not Gonna Take It” Maddie Bender backed by Lauren Magyar, Gavin Rine, Colton Hessler, and Samantha Guyer
“Kiss Me Deadly” Duet by Jaelyn Woods and Emily Wolfgang
“Hit Me with Your Best Shot” Natalie St. James and Mira Fink
“Welcome to the Jungle” Breanna Gardner
“Another One Bites the Dust” Duet by Dylan Ring and Addi Heasley
“Summer of ’69” Carson Bloom backed by Jewels Tawney
“Boys of Summer” Faculty and Staff Band
Faculty and Staff Band:
Mr. Eric Brown- STEM and Physics teacher, lead guitar
Mr. Brett Hofstrom Math teacher, bass guitar
Mr. Brian Rehn High School Band Director, keyboard
Mr. Adam Westover – Red Raider Marching Band Drum Line Instructor, drummer
Mr. Jeremey Rhoades Network Administrator, rhythm guitar
The student crew members were:
Iris Kiester – Lights
Clara Ulrich – Photography
Zach Ettinger – Videographer
Kelley Showers – Emcee
Josh Solomon Stage Tech