Glenbrook Fine Arts community collaborates, honors Shakespeare

Gabby Zabat, staff writer

The audience waits in anticipation and silence for the grand, velvet curtains to open. As the crowd hears the drapes shuffling across the wooden floors, they begin to applaud the 130 students of the Glenbrook Fine Arts community. Once the lights dim on the Glenbrook Symphony Orchestra (GSO), the choirs of Glenbrook South and North follow the sound of Shakespeare’s most famous musical pieces to begin their concert.

On March 23, the students of South and North conducted a performance that incorporates the instrumental sound of GSO, the theatricals of North’s drama department, the voices of North’s Chorale Choir and South’s Masters Singers. According to GSO cellist Ji Kim, GSO has never performed a concert with Master Singers or contributing actors prior to the concert.

“I think [the concert is] really cool because I have never really played like this before, […] so this one is special,” Kim said.

According to Masters Singer Ryan Kim, he also found the concert very interesting because of its Shakespearean theme. Music directors Martin Sirvatka and Andrew Toniolo chose this theme to celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.

Ryan Kim explains he was very excited to perform Shakespearean songs and “expected excellency, superb music and a great performance.”

To achieve the high expectations of their performance, Sirvatka and Toniolo rehearsed with their students for several weeks to complete their songs. One of the main pieces the choirs focused on included the song “If Music be the Food of Love.” After various rehearsals, many Masters Singers admitted they knew the song like the back of their hand.

“We practiced [“If Music be the Food of Love”] quite frequently, [so] that I already had it memorized,” Ryan said. “However, ‘practice does make permanent,’ as Mr. Sirvatka would say.”

After numerous rehearsals of reviewing lyrics, analyzing sheet music and rereading their scripts, all of the students and directors believed they were ready for their concert.

“[The concert] was beautifully done,” Sirvatka said. “The orchestra was better than ever , and the choir sounded great.”

According to Ji and Ryan, they were both impressed by the theatrics of the actors’ portrayal of Shakespeare’s plays, such as Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet.

“The actors and actresses were amazing,” Ryan Kim said. “[Their acting] truly displayed the works of Shakespeare.”

The concert included three GSO soloists as well. The performance included one flutist, one pianist and one violinist. According to Ji, one student that caught the most attention from the audience was the violinist.

“Another thing that blew me away were the soloists,” Ryan Kim said. “[I was impressed by] the violinist because he was just a freshman and performed amazingly.”

According to Toniolo, he was very impressed by Sirvatka’s conducting of the choirs and GSO. Throughout the performance the orchestra teachers of North surprised Sirvatka by allowing him to conduct GSO, Choral Choirs and Masters Singers to commend his last year of teaching at GBS.

“That’s the whole reason the choir was there in the first place, to honor Mr. Sirvatka,” Toniolo said.

According to Toniolo, Sirvatka acts as a mentor to him. Watching Sirvatka lead the whole  program acted as a great stand out moment for both Sirvatka and Toniolo. In fact, Sirvatka was one of the only teachers, besides the orchestra directors, to have the opportunity to lead the students.

“I wanted to do a really good job [for] such beautiful music,” Sirvatka said. “I had a lot of mixed emotions because I was thrilled and happy to [conduct, but also remembered] this is one of the last things I’ll do at this school.”

Because the concert was a huge success, Toniolo hopes to perform with GSO and Choral Choir again in the future. According to Toniolo, he believes it was a pleasant experience for both the students and the directors.

“The orchestra doesn’t always get to perform with a choir, and the choir doesn’t always get to perform with an orchestra,” Toniolo said. “It’s fun for the kids because it’s different and it’s a new experience.”