SMCHS Performing Arts comes together to dedicate the fifth annual Segerstrom concert to Nick Kraus.
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The Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall is more than just a venue. Constructed like a musical instrument, the building’s acoustics magnify each and every sound made by the student musicians. Thus, the concert hall provides the perfect atmosphere to commemorate performing arts teacher Nick Kraus.
On Monday Mar. 6, SMCHS Performing and Visual Arts journeyed to the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall for the annual spring concert in memorial of Kraus, who passed away in the fall of 2014. Before the show, the Visual Arts Department showcased paintings, drawings and photographs created by its students in the lobby.
“From a curricular standpoint, [the concert] is a platform for us to be able to perform the repertoire that the classes have been working on,” said orchestra teacher Michael Whang.
Over 300 students took part in the Memorial Concert, which involved symphony orchestra, advanced women’s chorus, men’s choir, concert choir, chamber singers, steel drums and classical guitar ensembles.
“We have a lot of talented musicians who don’t get the opportunity to showcase their artistic talent, so I think it’s a great way for people to see them in that arena,” Whang said.
Each student prepared 10 to 30 minutes of repertoire for the Segerstrom concert. In terms of planning, the schedule and calendar are set 13 to 14 months prior to the performance. The money generated by the Segerstrom concert will fund the Nick Kraus Memorial Scholarship. The hope is that it will be funded for this year as well as the next 10 years.
“We want to provide a graduating senior with a scholarship to their college for those who are pursuing music education or music performance to keep his memory alive here at the school” said choir teacher and performing arts department chair Francisco Calvo.
Visual Arts also held some presence at the concert as IB visual art teacher Joseph Hoff announced the first place winner of the top 10 permanent gallery collection, a photograph taken by junior Rania Saba. Also prompted by the visual arts department, senior Evelyn Young created a portrait of Kraus as a gift to his family from SMCHS.
“This year we’re singing a song called Come Sweet Death, and it ends with this really avant garde dramatic wall of sound and somehow that noise all comes and forms a chord and resolution,” Calvo said. “It’s symbolic of this life as temporary, but because we have faith we believe in everlasting life so it has this strange dichotomy where you feel hope and despair but ultimately at the end you feel hope.”
Along with Come Sweet Death, the students performed works by artists such as Brahms, Grieg, Schubert, Whitacre, Thompson and Elgar. For the finale, all choirs, guitar ensemble, steel drums and symphony orchestra combined to perform Baba Yetu, a song from a video game once performed by Kraus.
“When you play on stage all of a sudden you feel like you can open up, you can stretch your abilities, you can push to the limit of your talent,” Calvo said. “It’s a really neat thing.”
Calvo himself soloed on the piano with the symphony orchestra. He contributed to the show with a performance of Piano Concerto, Op. 16 by Edvard Green.
“It’s unique; it’s really special,” Calvo said “You see it in the students’ faces when they walk on stage for the first time, they’re almost a little scared because it is intimidating, but once they finally realize how much it improves their performance, they get into it.”
Senior Andrew Calcaterra has experienced this feeling since his freshman year, when he became involved in performing arts. Kraus taught Calcaterra in handbells his freshman year and steel drums his sophomore year.
“He really enjoyed what he did teaching, and steel drums, and just music in general,” Calcaterra said. “He taught me to find and try to pursue a career path that I’m really interested–not just something that will make me more comfortable in life.”
In his final year of steel drums, Calcaterra’s last performance at Segerstrom allowed him to look back on and appreciate his time with Mr. Kraus.
“There was a picture of him that they had right before you walked on stage,” Calcaterra said. “So that made me think of my freshman year when I performed with him at Segerstrom so it was a really reflective experience realizing how fast time has gone by and realizing what a good teacher he was.”
Mr. Kraus left a mark on SMCHS that will never be forgotten. With a scholarship in his name and a beautiful spring concert in memorial to him, SMCHS will honor him for many years to come.