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Popping with passion

Paris Zhang '27

Apr 10, 2024

"It's hard to pick standouts because I honestly enjoyed every one,” said musical director Kristen Morrow, commenting on the performances in the 2024 Spring Pops Concert last Friday evening. That night the audience enjoyed a variety of performances by the Strings Ensemble, Jazz Band, Magalia, and Octet. 

The night started with two beautiful pieces by the Strings Ensemble, led by Michael Cameron. They transitioned into Usher’s "Yeah!" which was "rhythmically fun and interesting," according to Morrow. The audience responded with huge applause as the performers stomped their feet to match the beats. 

Then, the audience welcomed the Jazz Band, led with excitement by Sahmi Beni. Several seniors, such as Kene Olusanya ’24, Emily Tan ’24, and Alex Van Ess ’24, performed solos.

"All the solo parts that they came up with were from their own minds," said pianist Tan. "They made these songs theirs." 

Tan indicated that the band started preparing its songs in the fall term. "That definitely gave me more time to practice and to come up with the solos. All of these songs we practiced for at least two to three months," she said. 

"I thought the leadership and musicianship shown by our seniors was outstanding. The years of practice and experience leading up to last night gave them the confidence to share some of what they have worked so hard to develop," said Morrow, "I truly admired their courage and commitment." 

Tan also commented on the soloists' courage: "Everyone did such a good job standing out there in front of everyone."

Claire Chow ’26, a member of Magalia who had a solo in the group’s version of Ed Sheeran’s "Kiss Me," said the concert went amazingly and wonderfully, and she thought the group performed better in the concert than in their rehearsal. "We picked songs we liked," she said. She loved that Avallina Orfield ’25 rapped in "Payphone” by Maroon 5 and Wiz Khalifa. 

The audience was immersed in the performance and people were singing along while waving their phone flashlights. This was also the case when Octet performed "Falling For U," a song composed by Mercersburg’s own Coco Zhai ’24.

A burst of laughter from the audience accompanied Octet as they walked on stage, wearing Hawaiian shirts while singing "The Coconut Song."  "I love the choreography they did for ‘The Coconut Song,’" Chow commented.

In one song, Magalia and Octet joined as "Magtet" to sing Morrow's favorite song, Cyndi Lauper’s "True Colors." "It has been a favorite song of mine since the 80s, so it has a special place in my heart. I also especially love the sound when the low and high voices of each group combine to form Magtet," said Morrow. 

Asked how she worked with her colleagues to organize the concert, Morrow responded, "We aimed to strike a good stylistic balance and a pace that would make the concert flow easily. Also, there was a conscious effort to create a program order and seating plan that allowed all the ensembles to support each other as a community."

Overall, Morrow thought Pops 2024 was a huge success, noting "a strong spirit of unity and mutual admiration among Mercersburg's student musicians."

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