Shawnee High School recently brought the “Sounds of the Season” alive in a fine arts extravaganza.
The traditional holiday music program was transformed into a larger-scale event for its first year at Kuss Auditorium at the Clark State Performing Arts Center. The school previously held the concert at Weaver Chapel at Wittenberg University, but the past two years have had standing-room only crowds.
"While I have only been the director for the past nine years, for the last several decades the Shawnee High School choral and orchestra concert has been presented in the beautiful Weaver Chapel,” explained Lydia Smith-Lockwood, vocal director at Shawnee High School. “The past two years, we have had to turn people away at the doors because of overcrowding. We decided to pursue the Kuss Auditorium as a potential venue. I am grateful to have this acoustically sound, stunning, professional space within our community, and thankfully, the auditorium was available for our performance.”
By moving to to Kuss Auditorium this year, the school expanded its concert into a coordinated music and arts event featuring five choirs, string orchestra, wind symphony under the direction of Jason Abady, children's choirs under the direction of Stephanie Lange and Ashley Hill, a trumpet ensemble from Wright State University, Stephanie Llacuna on harp and Amanda Roberts on piano.
“The venue change allowed me to expand our offerings to include the art department under the direction of Deb Housh, who presented in the lobby pre-show,” Smith-Lockwood said.
Nearly 400 students were involved in the program.
“When the students surrounded the auditorium and sang, ‘Silent Night,’ it was emotional,” Smith-Lockwood said. “In a world filled with gun violence and drugs, to know that so many youth can commit to one moment of peace is moving. There is certainly transformative power and hope in the pursuit of music.”
Despite moving to the larger capacity venue, the “Sounds of the Season” show nearly sold out.
“We were almost to full capacity and the outpouring of support for the music and the arts within not only the Shawnee district, but also within the greater Springfield community is wonderful,” Smith-Lockwood said. “People ask me all of the time why I choose to live in Springfield, and the reason is because of the strong arts offerings. We hope that our youth will also decide to stay and be the future patrons of the Springfield Arts Council, the Springfield Symphony, Springfield Civic Theater, Stageworks and many other small organizations that make this community viable.”
Click here to view photos from Sounds of the Season.