TPHS Student Showcase

Master of Ceremonies Jason Nguyen (12) shuffled onstage on April 19 to kick off the night’s Student Showcase, introducing a host of musical performances by TPHS students to an enthusiastic audience. A student-led performance, the Student Showcase gave students with musical talent a spotlight to show their stuff.

Beginning at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center, it was immediately apparent that this show would be a fun one. Though the audience was somewhat small, the front rows were packed to the brim with excited students, parents and music fans, sharing encouragement, laughter and even some friendly ridicule with the performers.

Perhaps that communal environment is what made some of TPHS’s most talented hidden stars come out — most notably the composers of a collection of original compositions. The first original song came from Addi Romero (11), with a classically tragic love song entitled “The Way It Was Before.” Romero’s performance, with a tap of her foot and a gentle strum on the guitar, was truly a wonder to see.

Another marvel of the show was the trio of songs written and sung by Raisa Tuxerxan (10), whose deep, powerful vocals overlaid the skilled piano playing of Annie Wu (12). Tuxerxan’s original songs: “At Least,” is a powerful ballad of emotive vocal fluctuations; “Chem-Is-Die,” an unapologetically apologetic song bemoaning the stress of chemistry classes on TPHS students that included the line, “Sorry Mr. Rall for writing this song”; and “Wait,” a jazzy, gritty ode to a love lost with vocals evoking Fiona Apple.

The cover songs played, in addition to TPHS originals, were consistently jaw-dropping. Pillar of the TPHS arts community, Libby Bezdek (12) started the show with a bang, switching nearly effortlessly between Broadway baby vocal stylings, operatic belting and contagious scatting in her rendition of “The Girl in 14G” by Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan. Enhancing the performance was her playful banter with pianist Edison Choy (12), whose seamless playing was only enhanced by his casual “Yeah” in response to Bezdek’s exclamation “That felt good!” Bezdek finished the show with “Fairytale” by Alexander Rybak over the lone violin of Anthony Kim (9). Another stunning performance was the simple, oh-so-sweet rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Ours” by Nethra Mahendran (11). Playing a small acoustic nylon string guitar alongside her enchanting, folksy vocals, Mahendran’s performance embodied a stroll through a grassy field, a perfect homage to Swift.

But one group cannot be forgotten: the musicians — perhaps best represented by the murmur “This is our moment to shine” spoken by violinists Caden Jiang (11), Jaemin Kwak (11) and violist Eric Kim (11) as they stood up to perform. The musical talent displayed in the Student Showcase was no surprise given how successful the music department has been this year. (The orchestra just last weekend won a “Gold” rating.) Jiang, Kwak, Kim and pianist Justin Pan’s (11) performance of “Merry Go Round of Life” by Joe Hisaishi truly felt like a journey through one’s life, from the somber pits to the jaunty peaks. Kayley Kang’s (11) “Flute Concerto in D Major,” accompanied by her mother Sunah Chang on piano, made the fluttery flute shine in a way not often heard. Sneha Lele’s (10) “Andante and Allegro” by J.E. Barat on euphonium, backed by Gene Stone (11) on the piano, turned, no matter how briefly, the TPHS PAC into a moody jazz club. And appropriately met by gasps and cheers as she brought out her bench, Velana Valdez’s (12) grace on the harp, as she played “Rhapsodie” by Marcel Grandjany, was simply magical, her fingers causing ripples through the instrument like petals falling on some magical pond.

All in all, this showcase was a pure expression of the talents and passions of TPHS. From Wu’s chunky combat boots delicately pressing piano pedals, to the commitment Music Department head Amy Gelb shows her students, the Student Showcase was chock-full of talent, community and fun.
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