All curricular ensembles in the Bedford performing arts program participated in winter concerts during the past month, marking a relative return to normalcy in terms of the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the 2020 and 2021 school year concerts, performers were encouraged to only invite a few family members to shows, and audience members were asked to wear masks.
Participation in performing arts programs plummeted across all age levels with overall less than half the usual number of musicians. This was largely due to many unknowns about how Covid-19 could spread, and uncertainty about whether or not ensembles would be able to perform in concerts, or even practice together as a whole group.
Happily, after the mask mandate was lifted in May, ensembles were able to perform together without masks in large groups. During this current school year, the performing arts program experienced a rise in participants and a return to normalcy.
Across grades 4-12, instrumental and choral ensembles put on five concerts in December to full audiences. John Glenn Middle School students performed on Dec. 8 and Dec. 14, and Bedford High School students performed on Dec. 13 and Dec. 15. Lane School students performed at BHS on Dec. 21. Performers and audience members were able to choose whether or not to wear a mask.
Nicole O’Toole, director of the Bedford performing arts program, feels that now the program is “back to normal,” thanks to those measures taken to get through the worst of the pandemic. O’Toole cites beginning band numbers as proof. In 2020 and 2021, only 20 to 25 students were enrolled in the program, while in 2022, nearly 60 students participated. The rising vaccination numbers among younger students allowed for participation numbers to increase.
The Bedford Vertical concerts, in which all musical students from grades 4-12 participate, will return this spring. The Vertical concerts are an opportunity for younger students to see their potential as they grow through the program, and for older students to look back on their past and see their growth. Students of all age levels perform a combined piece at the end of each concert.
The choral Vertical concert will happen in February, and the band and orchestral Vertical concert takes place in March. Each concert will be held at Bedford High School.