An extravagant culture

Annual SHS Extravaganza concert shapes musical culture for students


Photo contributed by Aubrey Popovic

The “Ladies First Show Choir” group performs at their competition in February. The “Ladies First Show Choir” group is one of the advanced groups that perform at Extravaganza.

With the school year coming to an end and students buckling down to prepare for finals, the music department has also been consistently preparing for their end of the year concert, Extravaganza.

Extravaganza is a combination concert in which all of the advanced ensembles from band, orchestra and choir perform together.

According to senior Aubrey Popovic, throughout Extravaganza, each group performs their own set of music and then band and orchestra perform a song together. As the concert nears its end, all the groups perform two songs together, and then in order to honor the seniors, the groups then perform a “senior song” together accompanied by a slideshow of senior photos.

“My favorite part is probably the senior song,” Popovic said. “Even though I’m performing during it, I still get to watch the slideshow and still get to see everybody and the process that they have made throughout the four years.”

According to junior Sarah Rusaw, who has performed in Extravaganza since her freshman year, this end-of-year concert is what she finds to be the most thrilling, especially since the students get to be more involved in the process of selecting the pieces they perform. The pieces they choose are more relevant to today’s current hits and songs they would not normally perform in other concerts throughout the school year.

“It is what I look forward to the most,” Rusaw said. “I feel like people think Extravaganza is more made for them because we get a say in what we play.”

Rusaw says that while Extravaganza is very exhilarating, the preparation that comes with it can be very stressful for nearly everyone in the music department as it is their last show of the year and a lot of people attend.

According to Popovic, who is a part of the show-choir group that performs at Extravaganza, preparation for this concert takes quite a bit of time.

“With choir, we rehearse from the end of February or beginning of March, all the way to Extravaganza in May,” Popovic said.

Extravaganza does not only affect the students involved, but it also affects the directors. According to Orchestra director Thomas Wright, Extravaganza can be seen as a way for them to set the curriculum. This can mean choosing music selections each year that test different skills or simply introducing new notes to the students that they may use during their advanced courses and concerts.

“From the time that the students are in eighth grade, we are subtly preparing them to play Extravaganza,” Wright said. “It helps me plan out the curriculum and skills we need to cover.” Senior Nicole Whitman says that the students never stop rehearsing for Extravaganza from the moment they get their instrument in middle school to their very last concert.

As Extravaganza is a concert for the advanced groups, the middle school teachers teach the students skills they would use in the advanced courses so that ultimately, they can perform in Extravaganza.

Popovic says that the songs that are performed at Extravaganza are placed in the hands of middle schoolers who are set to come up and be a part of the music department here at SHS. This is done in order to prepare the students ahead of time for what they will be performing in Extravaganza.

“In middle school, you get a version of “Stars and Stripes,” “The National Anthem” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and you pretty much use that same version from then until your senior year,” Popovic said.

Extravaganza is an annual thing and it is something that is taken very seriously by the entire music department. From preparing students in middle school and all throughout high school in order to make the performance better each year, it is something that has helped shape and well round the musical culture in the music department as well as in SHS.

Popovic says that Extravaganza is great because it is the one time that all of the sections in the music department get to perform together.

“It’s really cool because everybody really gets to get together because none of our concerts are really ever together,” Popovic said. “We don’t ever get to play together, sing together or anything other than with your own section in the department so having the bigger concert, you get to see what every does throughout the year and how it all comes together.”