Tag Archives: Orphenians

Young Artists Create Yard Signs, Videos

On Monday, April 5, the Coleytown Elementary School lawn will be decorated with yard signs. They’re the work of students, showcasing the diverse arts and music they’ve been studying for months.

Coleytown Elementary School yard sign,

The next day — Tuesday, April 6 — different signs will appear at Greens Farms Elementary. Over the next 3 days they’ll be posted at Kings Highway, Long Lots and Saugatuck. Then, look for them around town, in more public spaces like Town Hall and the Riverwalk.

Greens Farms Elementary School yard sign.

The yard signs are just one element of the “Westport Youth Arts Collaborative: America’s Voices” project. It’s a robust successor to the beloved — but far more limited — Youth Concerts of years past.

Saugatuck Elementary School yard sign.

Those events introduced elementary schoolers to the high school music program. There were themes — Disney movies, for example — and more recently, tie-ins with countries like India and China, as part of the district’s Global Initiatives plan.

This year’s Youth Arts Collaborative focuses on American musicians — and artists. The goal is to celebrate not only our artistic diversity, but also that of Westport’s elementary school youngsters. Students created the signs, using their own words and images to highlight their own special backgrounds.

Long Lots Elementary School yard sign.

Along with the artwork, each school will air a special video, produced by Ryan Smith (the mastermind behind Staples High School’s virtual Candlelight Concert last December).

A variety of Staples groups — the Amati and Stradivarius chamber orchestras, chamber winds, jazz ensemble and Orphenians — recorded performances earlier this month.

Recording the Stradivarius Chamber Orchestra at Staples. (Photo/Brandon Malin)

The videos will include one of the high school ensembles; artwork from children at that elementary school, and “family folk songs.” They come from around the globe. All were coordinated by Candi Innaco.

“There’s an amazing diversity of backgrounds in Westport,” says townwide arts coordinator Steve Zimmerman. “The kids were really excited to show off their families.”

The Youth Arts Collaborative is a huge undertaking. It’s taken months of preparation. When it’s over, students who created their yard signs will keep them (and hopefully repost them in their own yards). Videos and art projects will be available through their school’s websites.

Kings Highway Elementary School yard sign.

For years, the Youth Concert inspired elementary schoolers to play music — and keep playing as they moved through middle school and Staples.

This new project will do even more for young musicians and artists. “America’s Voices” will soon be Westport’s own.

Staples High School has a yard sign too.

Pop! Go The Concerts

If you missed last Friday’s Staples High School concert, you weren’t alone. Tickets went faster than “Springsteen on Broadway” (and, being free, for a lot less cash).

But you don’t have to wait a year for the next one.

Here, thanks to the indefatigable Jim Honeycutt, is the entire show.

The symphonic band and orchestra, jazz band and choral group Orphenians — they’re all here.

So is a special tribute to retiring orchestra director Adele Valovich. The show is narrated by actor/director James Naughton.


BONUS REEL: As if that’s not enough, here’s the recent spring concert, featuring Nick Mariconda’s Staples jazz band, and their Bedford Middle School counterparts, led by Gregg Winters.

Staples Sings With One Voice

Staples High School’s many choral ensembles — male, female, mixed, from freshmen through elite Orphenians — came together last Friday for a special “One Voice Concert for Unity.”

They sang by themselves and together. There were featured solos, and soaring, intricate group selections. Orphenians performed 2 pieces by Jake Runestad, the heralded composer whose work they’ll showcase this summer in Australia.

And there was a compelling rendition of “Tell My Father,” Sullivan Ballou’s tender Civil War letter to his wife, put to music.

It was an outstanding evening. Just when you think choral director Luke Rosenberg and our town’s teenagers can’t set the bar higher — they do.

(Hat tip: Jim Honeycutt, videographer)


What happens when a bunch of Staples High School Orphenian graduates — now in college — get together for a multi-generational holiday party, at a beautiful, historic Westport home?

Just watch!

I filmed this last night in Rondi Charleston and Steve Ruchefsky’s wonderful parlor. Staples choral director Luke Rosenberg joins in. And yes, that’s Tony Award winner Jim Naughton making an appearance too.

The video quality is not great. But the music way more than makes up for it.


Musica Caliente!

On Friday, Staples High School’s Orphenians, A Cappella Choir, Chorus and Chorale presented more than a dozen songs from places near the equator: Brazil, Bali, India, Puerto Rico, Haiti, East Africa.

“¡Musica Caliente!” was the latest in an extraordinary series of gifts from the music department to the town.

If you missed it, no hay problema. Staples’ indefatigable Media Lab co-director Jim Honeycutt taped and edited the entire show. Now “06880” readers can enjoy it all.

NOTE: The first number is not a traditional “song.” But it does show the amazing sounds choral director Luke Rosenberg elicits from his teenage singers.

If your browser does not take you directly to YouTube, click here.

A Gift For Luke Rosenberg

Last night’s “¡Musica Caliente!” concert was stunning.

Staples High School’s Orphenians, A Cappella Choir, Chorus and Chorale presented more than a dozen songs from places near the equator — Brazil, Bali, India, Puerto Rico, Haiti, East Africa — that were extraordinarily difficult to sing, beautiful in vastly different ways, and inspiringly presented.

It was a superb evening. But the highlight came after choral director Luke Rosenberg spoke movingly of his many seniors — the 1st class he’s seen all the way through Staples, since arriving 4 years ago.

Each senior described where he or she is going to college. Some are studying voice or musical theater; others will become engineers, journalists or psychologists. One hopes to enter the Marines.

Then the seniors announced a gift. They stood on the risers and sang “Dominus Vobiscum” by Sydney Guillaume, the Haitian composer whose “Tap Tap” they had already performed to thunderous applause.

Luke Rosenberg (left) listens to his graduating seniors sing.

Luke Rosenberg (left) listens to his graduating seniors sing.

The soon-to-be-graduates had chosen the piece, rehearsed it, and nailed it — all on their own.

That’s the greatest gift any educator ever gets.

Warmth Of The Season

Santa brought his sleigh carriage to Main Street today.

He was headed here with reindeer, but the Texas-like temperatures forced the  switch to horses.

Horse carriage - Main Street Christmas 2015

Out in force too were Orphenians, Staples’ elite singing group. They donned their gay apparel — sweaters, scarves and caps — just for show. It was warm.

But you can’t keep a good rendition of “Jingle Bells” down.

After which, a few of director Luke Rosenberg’s carolers hopped in Santa’s carriage for a musical ride.

It’s all a warm-up for next weekend’s Candlelight Concert.

And we do mean warm-up.

Orphenians Rock Yankee Stadium

It’s been quite a year for the Staples Orphenians.

In March they traveled to — and wowed — San Francisco, as part of the prestigious Chanticleer festival.

Tonight they did the same at Yankee Stadium.

Choral director Luke Rosenberg directs the Orphenians at Yankee Stadium. (Photo/New York Yankees)

Choral director Luke Rosenberg directs the Orphenians at Yankee Stadium. (Photo/New York Yankees)

They had to wait out an hour-and-20-minute rain delay — hey, that’s show biz — but when they finally stood at home plate, they delivered a strong, sophisticated and inspiring rendition of our national anthem.

The largest crowd ever to watch the Orphenians perform gave them a loud, well-deserved hand.

Best of all, they made it onto the Jumbotron.

For the Yankees’ official high-def video, click here.

For Jim Honeycutt’s video — including scenes of the Orphenians greeting Jimmy Fallon and Lorne Michaels before they leave the field — click here:

To see Kim Mathias’ video, click below (or here, if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube):

To see Chip Stephens’ video, click below (or here, if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube):

Orphenians Prepare For San Francisco Stage

Yesterday morning, Luke Rosenberg led the Orphenians on stage at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall.

They were there as part of the National Youth Choral Festival — and an evening performance, with 300 singers.

Here’s how they sounded, solo:

(Hat tip: Mark Mathias)

Broadway Stars Benefit Orphenians

Adam Kaplan has not forgotten his roots.

Adam Kaplan

Adam Kaplan

The 2008 Staples High School graduate scored some prime roles — Martin Delancey and a newsboy, plus understudy for lead Jack Kelly — in the popular Broadway show “Newsies.” But he has returned to Westport often, enjoying Staples Players productions and  visiting Greens Farms Elementary School music classes.

Now Kaplan is donating his talents to a fundraiser for the Orphenians, the elite high school singing group that helped boost his career. The a cappella musicians have been invited to San Francisco — the only East Coast group to participate in the famed Chanticleer National Youth Choral Festival, this March.

Kaplan has put together an all-star Broadway cast, for a benefit performance. Set to appear with him in the Staples auditorium on Monday, January 26: “Newsies” Tommy Bracco and Molly Jobe; Matt Shingledecker (“Wicked,” “West Side Story,” “Spring Awakening”); Steffanie Leigh (the final Mary of “Mary Poppins”); Robin de Jesús (current star of “Wicked”; 2-time Tony nominee for “In the Heights” and “La Cage aux Folles”); Barrett Wilbert Weed (“Heathers the Musical,” “Lysistrat Jones”) and Kara Lindsay (“Wicked,” “Newsies”).

Proceeds will help all Orphenians be able to make the trip. Click here to order tickets ($40 for adults, $20 for students and seniors). If you can’t attend but would like to contribute, click here.

The 2014-15 Orphenians

The 2014-15 Orphenians