ESL class debut at MVRHS concert


Updated 12:32

During Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s Winter Concert, a new group debuted on stage: the ESL (English as a second language) performance class. MVRHS theater teacher Brooke Ditchfield, leading in with an introduction in Portuguese, said this was the first time the ESL class has sung alongside the other musical groups in the performing arts department.

“I have been trying for several years to get a performance class for our ESL students up and running,” Ditchfield said. This year she felt the addition of her class was progress toward “equitable representation of our students” and a “celebration of the talent and creativity” of the ESL students.

The drummer, Lucas Klein, is deaf and speaks Libras (Portuguese sign language).

“Everyone can speak the language of music,” Ditchfield said. “He may not be able to hear the music, but he can feel the beat, see his ensemble, keep the beat, and participate in the performance just like all of his classmates.”

Members of the ESL class sang two songs. One was “Let It Be” by the Beatles. The other was “De Quem E A Culpa?” by Marília Mendonça, a multi-award winning Brazilian singer. A student said they were singing Mendonça’s song in her memory. Mendonça died in a plane crash on her way to a concert in November, according to CNN. 

The other performing students also elicited cheers from the crowd. The vocal ensemble, conducted by performing arts department chair Abigail Chandler, started off the concert with “Pie Jesu” by Mary Lynn Lightfoot. They followed up the Latin melody with “All Is Quiet” by Josh Sparkman, and “A Marshmallow World (with ‘The Candy Man’).” 

The concert band, led by music teacher Ray Fallon, played Laura Estes’ arrangement of “S’vivon!” Lloyd Conley’s arrangement of “Bashana Haba’Ah” by Nurit Hirsh, and Douglas E. Wagner’s arrangement of “You’ll Be Back” by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Fallon played trumpet with his students, and conducted at the same time, to fill in for a student who was absent that night. 

Chandler led the Minnesingers’ performance of Pentatonix’s arrangement of “Silent Night” and “Stars I Shall Find” by Victor C. Johnson. 

Fallon led the MV Big Band’s performance of Paul Murtha’s arrangements of “Insensatez (How Insensitive)” by Antonio Carlos Jobim and “No Time to Die” by Billie Eilish, Mark Taylor’s arrangement of “Blue in Hoss Flat” by Foster & Basie, and Bod Lowden’s arrangement of “Take the A Train” by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Fallon also played some trumpet with the big band. 

The concert concluded with a collaborative performance by all of the regular ensembles from the music department. They performed Roger Emerson and Paul Lavender’s arrangement of “Holiday Favorites,” a medley of classic holiday tunes like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Updated with answers from Brooke Ditchfield.


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