Students cool in face of contest cancellations

BAR HARBOR — Students in Mount Desert Island High School performing ensembles were remarkably composed when the news came last week that the big state competitions they’ve spent many months preparing for have been cancelled due to coronavirus precautions, their teachers said. 

The school’s show choirs, jazz ensembles and one act play cast and crew all earned high marks at the district festivals. But the state champion trophies and jackets mean a lot to the performers who earn them, and there will be none this year. 

The Trojan Trebs show choir earned a silver rating at districts last month. The defending state champion MDI Mixed show choir earned gold with “The Binding of Isaac” featuring an eclectic selection of rock, gospel, hip hop and more. The local Show Choir Extravaganza night, a showcase of all the MDI middle school and high school performances, will not be an option this year with the school closed. 

The jazz ensembles had a busy weekend planned, with the Clark Terry Jazz Festival at the University of New Hampshire and the state jazz festival this coming weekend. 

My students were surprisingly composed about it all, but it happened so quickly that we hardly had time to process it,” music teacher Michael Remy said in an email MondayI’m not even sure it’s fully hit me yet. 

He and the students were looking forward to performances and clinics with trumpet player Tanya Darby and saxophone player Walter Smith III. They also had a new piece by composer Jacob Mann they were set to premiere at both festivals. 

Parent Peggy Knox happened to be at the ensembles’ final rehearsal last week when Remy broke the news about the cancellations. 

I think it’s important for them to know that, from one parent’s opinion, it was really impressive to see how well they took such difficult news,” she said to Remy in an email. “I’m sure it is all hugely disappointing. But from my seat, they took the news with grace and maturity. They were reasoned and impressively appropriate. That is a testament to the caliber of students you are working with and the culture you have created. 

Over in the school’s theater, drama teacher Casey Rush gathered together the students involved in the one act who were still in the building after school Wednesday, which was about half of them, to discuss the drama festival cancellation. 

There were some tears, but I was impressed by their maturity and poise in the wake of such sudden, sad news,” Rush said. “After having won state championships during their freshman and sophomore years but not qualifying for States in 2019, the one act kids felt they had unfinished business, and were looking forward to going to Falmouth. 

This sense made the announcement even tougher,” he continued. “One freshman cast member said they were heartbroken for the seniors, and there seemed to be a consensus in the room that the members of this year’s amazing and accomplished senior class were preeminent on everyone’s minds. 

The Black Rose night planned for this week has also been cancelled, but the teachers said they are scheming to make end-of-year awards and celebrations extra special. 

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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