CESJDS holds first in-person concert in two years


Nini Panner, LT

Shir Madness performs at the Winter Concert.

Nini Panner, Reporter

The CESJDS annual winter concert has brought students and families together again to celebrate the work and achievements of student musicians in the upper school. The event showcased the talents of students on and off the stage. 

This year marked the first in-person concert in two years due to COVID-19 restrictions. Upper School Instrumental Music Teacher Gary Prince and Upper School Vocal Music Teacher Sherry Benedek led the middle school ensemble, high school ensemble, middle school choir, Harmoniah and Shir Madness. Prince noted the dedication students have shown in preparation for this concert. 

“It’s the culminating event of the fall semester for the instrumental ensembles and choirs. We’ve been working towards this all semester. All semester we’ve been learning different repertoire, practicing different musical skills,” Prince said. “Over the past couple of months the students and I have selected which songs we will prepare for the winter concert and polishing those up for a while now.” 

COVID-19 has challenged the musical students to find new ways to share and perform their work. Choirs and ensembles have found ways to meaningfully move concerts to virtual platforms, but the opportunity to perform in front of an audience again was a gratifying experience for the students. 

Sophomore Reyut Wasserstein is grateful that restrictions have been lifted enough for an in-person concert.

“Performing in front of a lot of people is actually the best part of being in a choir. You’ve worked for so long every week after school,” Wasserstein said. “It builds up and it’s very exciting to put into music the experience JDS has given us.”

However, the concert still had guidelines to protect the audience and performers from COVID-19. Each performer was only allowed to bring two fully vaccinated family members, and families were distanced from each other in the audience. Students have found wearing masks while performing to be one of the most difficult aspects of this year’s winter concert. 

Benedek and the choirs have done a lot of work in rehearsal to get ready for a masked performance, and Benedek said students were “rising to the challenge and doing the best they can” in masks. This has just been another change students have had to adapt to in the time of COVID-19. 

A big part of the winter concert is the senior song performed by the seniors in the a cappella group Shir Madness. This is the last performance they will have with the group. Senior Maia Zimmers recognized the emotional aspect of the night.

“Its bittersweet. It’s exciting to start new things and I know that I want to join a Jewish a cappella group in college and many people in Shir Madness want to do that,” Zimmers said. “But it’s sad because JDS has really created a sense of safety and community … I don’t think it’s fully hit that this is the last time singing as a choir.” 

Students and parents alike were teary saying goodbye to the seniors at the end of the concert. Senior Elyon Topolosky found it hard to say goodbye to the “family” he had found in Shir Madness. 

Younger singers like Wasserstein saw the winter concert as a sign of their future ahead with JDS musical groups. Although the concert meant many different things to different students, they were able to build a sense of community and support for each other that even people in the audience could sense. 

Shouts of encouragement could be heard throughout the concert by fellow student musicians. The winter concert encapsulated the pride JDS students and staff feel for their musical accomplishments. 

“There’s something you’ve been working towards since the beginning of the year and to finally get out there on the stage with people watching, under lights, with sound on you…” Benedek said. “There’s a sense of accomplishment, of reaching the end of a journey and showing everyone all the hard work you have done.”