We began rehearsing for the winter concert in November, just after the half term holidays. Each week, students had just one hour to learn the music and lyrics of songs both in French and English. They also had to learn how to take direction from a conductor and for some, it was their first time singing in a chorus. The challenge seemed insurmountable at times, but students maintained a positive attitude and as the weeks went by, they started to see that they were improving. They didn’t need to sing along with the video. They no longer needed to read the lyrics from a sheet. They were able to do it all on their own. Students that previously showed little interest in singing were volunteering to do solos. The momentum was building…

It may have seemed a bit silly to be singing Christmas songs in January, but the spirit of the holidays was still very much alive at IS33 when we started doing combined rehearsals in preparation for the show. For the first time, students were able to hear what other classes had been working on and were rightfully impressed. When the primary and middle school students all sang together for the first time, everyone was moved by the power of the moment: nearly 150 students singing songs of peace and joy in harmony. With only 7 weeks of practice, we were able to create something truly beautiful, and everyone had played a part. You could see that students recognized it, too: they knew we were ready to perform.

On the day of the show, there was a focused excitement in the air as we rehearsed on the real stage at the Solarium theater. The lights, the microphones, the loudspeakers, the house seats soon to be filled with a real audience… It was all very impressive but students kept their cool. Many of them were so natural, you would think that they had been performing their entire lives!

The rest of the story is better told in the videos of the performance, something you have to hear to believe. All of the groups sang better than they ever had, inspired by the thrill of being on stage in front of a live audience. It was almost unbelievable how well the show came together and yet there they were, all of the students, singing their hearts out. The school-wide performance of John Lennon’s immortal song “Imagine” is a memory that I will cherish for a lifetime, not only because students executed it beautifully but also because the message of the song resonated with everyone who was present in that theater. Thanks to the work that the students at IS33 do every day, in ways both big and small, we really are getting closer to Lennon’s dream of a world united.

I am honored to have been a part of this amazing evening and we can’t wait to see you all again for the summer show!

By Nicole S.