Program Report: Christmas 2017 DSA Chorus


This is all very subjective, of course, but congratulations to Program Chair Steed Rollins, Mary Casey of DPS, and the administration and instructors from the Durham School of the Arts, for one of the best Christmas programs I can remember.

In many years the real entertainment is watching much younger children perform…their expressions, interactions with each other and often the earnestness they bring to the performances, is the source of many broad grins and happy smiles. The younger kids remind us that so much of Christmas is about happy children.

This year, however, the chorus from the School of the Arts was older, more talented, more confident, more polished and the pieces more challenging. They did a fantastic job of showcasing the Choral program at the school which serves approximately 600 students. The tone is much more of a reminder that the spirit of the celebration is all about the message of peace on earth and goodwill to all.

Although, there were some lighter moments in the Coral program including the Hawaiian Mele Kalikimaka, they finished with one of my favorites, Carol of the Bells.

Nevertheless, the highlight of the show was a piano and cello performance of O Come, O Come Emmanuel by students Ben Kearsley on the piano and Peter Sumner on the cello. This brought the house to its feet for a standing ovation.

It also brought me to tears. I happened to be sitting at a table with Nick Malinowski, a soon to be member of the club and new Kidznotes Executive Director, and Rotarian Lucia Powe, a great supporter of Kidznotes and Nick’s sponsor. Several years ago, I was at the head table (when we had one) when former member and Kidznotes director Katie Wyatt played a piece on her viola that also brought me to tears in front of the whole audience. It was the first time I realized a well-played string instrument could work such magic.

We should also note that the club chorus entertained the club with two Christmas pieces before the School of the Arts performed. However, this was hardly a warmup act.  In my humble opinion, this was the best performance I’ve ever heard from them. The quality of the performance should be no surprise since the group is sprinkled with some serious musical talent including co-founder and former conductor of the Durham Symphony, Vince Simonetti, who led the group.

The whole program received a much deserved and enthusiastic standing ovation at the end, which had to make new Superintendent Dr. Pascal Mubenga and DSA Principal David Hawks, who were in attendance, very proud.

Also in attendance were choral program directors Amy Davis, Sean Grier and Kellen Moss, as well as piano teacher Art Davis and strings teacher Jody Crafford.

If you want to hear or learn more about the choral program at DSA, they have their own website at although it doesn’t look like it has been updated in a while.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Photos by Tom Bagby


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