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Tremendous Talent on Display at TASIS Spring Arts Festival

The 44th annual TASIS Spring Arts Festival began with an Opening Celebration in the Palestra on the morning of Tuesday, May 15. Fine Arts Department Chair Martyn Dukes set the tone by contextualizing this rich TASIS tradition and exhorting students to take advantage of all the week had to offer:

Initiated over 40 years ago by two TASIS faculty—Horst Dürrschmidt, the former Head of Art, and Fernando Gonzalez, now a TASIS Board member—the Spring Arts Festival sets out to recognize the arts and to celebrate and support the unique contributions that the arts and humanities make to TASIS life. The Spring Arts Festival gives us the opportunity to showcase, through performance and exhibition, the arts from across Elementary, Middle, and High Schools. It involves virtually every TASIS student and in so many ways the Spring Arts Festival is not unlike an enormous end-of-year exam for you all.

Our Founder, Mrs. Fleming, was an ardent advocate of the arts. She sought to balance the pursuit of knowledge with a love of wisdom. She promoted the skills of lifelong learning, with an appreciation for beauty, and combined a challenging academic program with endless opportunities for artistic endeavour.

Today, it is you who profit from this vision, this particular gift. For it is a gift. The arts are fundamental; they are something we hold up as important. They help us make sense of our world, and they broaden our experience and understanding. They allow us to look at ourselves; they delight us, transport us, and even surprise us. Without them—without art, drama, literature and music—our lives would be so much poorer.

So, before declaring the 2018 Spring Arts Festival open for business, please do not forget, this is your Spring Arts Festival. You own it, and united, together, you make it possible. You are the performers, the players, the artists, the audience, the spectators, and, of course, the applause. So, support your festival. Do this and you might just find yourselves delighted, surprised, and yes, for an oh-so-brief moment, even transported.

Let the festivities begin.

The Opening Celebration proceeded with performances from student vocalists, instrumentalists, dancers, and actors, serving as a preview for the week ahead. 

See a gallery of photographs from the Opening Celebration on the TASIS SmugMug page.

Tuesday evening featured a special “Music Without Borders: From Bach to Bernstein” concert in Lugano’s beautiful Palazzo dei Congressi Concert Hall. TASIS vocalists, instrumentalists, and dancers had the incredible opportunity to collaborate with renowned conductor Andrea Cupia, the Lyric Choir of Lugano, the Opera ViVa Orchestra, and the Milan Ballet Company in celebration of the centenary of Leonard Bernstein's birth. Watch the full concert below, and see a list of performers here.

See more photos from the “Music Without Borders” concert.

High School English classes presented poems, translations, and films on Wednesday evening in the Palmer Center at “From Page to Screen and Stage: A Literary Event.” Students in Dr. Chris Love's Honors World Literature class shared their excellent take on a pivotal scene from Shakespeare’s Othello, and prolific student filmmaker Alex Secilmis ’19—who earlier this spring reached the finals of the Regent’s University London International Filmmaking Competition with his original short film “Lost in Lugano”—unveiled his latest work: the brilliant mockumentary “Ric Tac Toe.”

The celebration continued on Thursday afternoon with an All-School Choral Concert in the Palmer Center that showcased the talents of the Elementary School, Middle School, High School, and Faculty Choirs—directed by Melody Tibbits Zanecchia, Sarah Grove Locke, Samantha Forrest, and Tamara Schumacher, respectively, and accompanied by Maestro di Canto Jonathan Morris and Gloria De Piante Vicin.

Julie Frazier-Smith’s Sweet November Dance Company took center stage following the choral concert and delighted the house with a dance showcase choreographed and performed by TASIS students and faculty members.

Friday morning opened with a conducting workshop in the Palmer Center for Melody Tibbits Zanecchia’s fifth-grade students, who had the honor of working with conductor Andrea Cupia and the Opera Viva Orchestra.

See more photos from the conducting workshop.

The “Happy Birthday, Mr. Bernstein!” concert in the Palestra on Friday afternoon featured excerpts from Leonard Bernstein’s most famous musical, West Side Story, as Ms. Tibbits Zanecchia’s Elementary School musicians again collaborated with Mr. Cupia and the Opera Viva Orchestra.

Friday evening brought the much-anticipated premiere of the Middle School Musical, Beauty and the Beast JR., a compelling adaptation of the classic story of transformation and tolerance. Based on the Academy Award-winning motion picture and the original Broadway production that ran for more than 13 years and was nominated for nine Tony Awards, the musical features some of the most popular songs ever written by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, along with new songs by Menken and Tim Rice.

Directed by Matthew Frazier-Smith, the talented cast and crew of Middle School students delivered a brilliant performance in the opener on Friday and followed it up with outstanding efforts on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Julie Frazier-Smith choreographed the show, Sarah Grove Locke and Melody Tibbits Zanecchia provided musical direction, and Gloria de Piante Vicin supplied the piano accompaniment.

Strict copyright restrictions prevented TASIS from filming Beauty and the Beast JR., but a gallery of School Photographer Kim Nelson’s striking images can be found on the TASIS SmugMug page.

See more excellent photos from Beauty and the Beast JR.

In addition to all the musical and theatrical performances, outstanding artwork created by TASIS students and faculty members was displayed around campus throughout the week, and the general public was invited to see the work from Friday through Sunday. The High School, Middle School, and Elementary School Art Exhibition was featured in the Palestra; Global Pop, an exhibition of graphic works by Assistant Director of Admissions Helen Roowalla, was showcased in the Ferit Şahenk Fine Arts Center’s Horst Dürrschmidt Gallery; A Diary of Academic Travel in Venice, an exhibition of drawings, prints, and paintings by Fine Arts Department Chair Martyn Dukes, was displayed in the Palmer Center’s VF Gallery; student photography was featured in Villa De Nobili; and photographs from the Opsahl Global Service Program lined the halls of Monticello.

The celebration of the arts continued in the Palmer Center on Saturday morning with individual instrumental and vocal recitals. Students in grades Kindergarten–5 performed first and were followed by students in grades 6–12.

See more photos from the Elementary School Instrumental and Vocal Recitals.

Later that afternoon, Lin Manuel Miranda fans were encouraged to participate in a community dramatic reading of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Hamilton in the Palmer Center.

Those not attending the second performance of Beauty and the Beast JR. on Saturday evening had a chance to gather on the De Nobili Terrace to enjoy two new student-directed events: the Student Bands Talent Show followed by DJ Hour with Artem Getman ’19.

TASIS High School vocal students from the studios of Jonathan Morris and Samantha Forrest performed a recital in the Palmer Center early Sunday afternoon to kick off the final day of the festival.

The campus was alive with activity on Sunday afternoon. Members of the Understanding Ulgii Global Service Program group built an impressive yurt on the field—where they displayed traditional Mongolian costumes and crafts before screening the documentary film The Eagle Huntress, the start of which they’ll meet when they travel to Mongolia in early June—and local artists offered a number of outdoor art workshops, including basket weaving with artisan Denise Realini, Chinese calligraphy and painting with artist Sufen Knuth, ceramic tile painting and tie-dye T-shirts and bags with TASIS art teacher Simona Bellini, pottery on the wheel with TASIS ceramics teacher Brigit Hurst and ceramicist Samuel Vogel, and wire wrap technique jewelry with Andrea Scacciotti.

See more shots from Sunday afternoon’s events.

Students in Ms. Valerie Bijur Carlson’s High School theater classes delivered excellent performances of modern comedy (“Betrayal 101”) and ancient tragedy (Antigone, Creon, and Philotimo) in the Palmer Center late Sunday afternoon—a show that also served as the theater students’ final exam.

The 2018 Spring Arts Festival concluded with a magnificent Closing Concert in front of a packed house in the Palestra. Student vocalists and instrumentalists made the most of their final opportunity to collaborate with the Lyric Choir of Lugano, the Opera Viva Orchestra, and conductor Andrea Cupia.

Please note that the first few minutes of the concert are missing due to an SD card error.

2018 Performing Arts Awards

The following awards were presented by High School Music Director Samantha Forrest and High School Theater Director Valerie Carlson at a High School assembly earlier in May.

Fall Play Awards: Roksolana Kozak '19 and Dmitrii Skulkov '18
Spring Musical Awards: Anna Caroline Collingwood '20 and Laura Kockara '20
Ensemble, Most Improved Player: Ryosuke Misuse ’20
Ensemble, Best All-Rounder: David Weng ’20
Choir, Most Improved Singer: Joy Mack ’21
Choir, Best All-Rounder: Francis Accilien ’19
Band, Most Improved Player: Juan Pablo Jaspaedo Villanueva ’20
Band, Best All-Rounder: Sergio Vinas ’20

In addition, Ethan Fredericksen ’18 deserves a great deal of commendation for reaching the final stage of the Regent’s University London International Acting Competition. Ethan submitted a Hamlet monologue and was one of just three students worldwide to be shortlisted by the Regent’s panel of judges.

At the conclusion of the Closing Concert, High School Music Director Samantha Forrest congratulated students for their many inspiring performances throughout the week—“All of these young artists here today, both performing and exhibiting, know how many countless, lonely hours it takes to create a masterpiece”—noted that “behind these great artists are great teachers” as she thanked pianoforte, violin, and voice teachers Gloria de Piante Vicin, Dessislava Deltcheva, and Jonathan Morris, respectively, and expressed her gratitude to the many staff members who toiled behind the scenes in order to bring this year’s festival to light—particularly Alessio di Tonno and Todd Bearden, who provided the indispensable technical support needed to pull off so many events in such a short time.

Mr. Dukes closed the evening by thanking Spring Arts Festival Coordinator Simone Aeschliman for “her tireless work in arranging the many pieces of the puzzle” and left students with the following message:

“Each year I am truly impressed by every student’s contribution, small or large. The 2018 Spring Arts Festival is no exception. This is where your hard work—the many, many hours of dedication and practice—have paid off. In this I’m conscious of the sacrifices many of you also have made, the personal risks involved in performance, and the countless compromises and decisions you had to make in managing your time along the way...I take away much from this, the 2018 Spring Arts Festival, and I hope each of you, in turn, will carry away a treasured moment.”

2018 Spring Arts Festival Photo Galleries

Opening Celebration
“Music Without Borders” rehearsals
“Music Without Borders” concert
Elementary School conducting workshop
Sweet November Dance Company rehearsals
Beauty and the Beast JR. rehearsals
Beauty and the Beast JR. performances
Vocal Concerts and Recitals
Elementary School Instrumental and Vocal Recitals
Sunday Afternoon at the Festival
Closing Concert


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