Deans Explain Music Program Cancellation

Last week, The Choate News reported on the administration’s decision to cancel this year’s special program before Parents’ Weekend, which traditionally takes place on Tuesday evening and features performances from students in various musical ensembles.

Mr. James Stanley, Dean of Students, has since elaborated on that decision, which he and his colleagues made in late July.

“We knew the fall was going to be really busy,” Mr. Stanley said. In addition to the provocative plays students were required to attend a few weeks ago — Slut: The Play and Now That We’re Men — the New York Times opinion columnist Nicolas Kristof was scheduled to speak in a required Special Program. Rosalind Wiseman and Charlie Kuhn, speakers from Cultures of Dignity, visited Choate this past weekto meet with various student groups and talk about ways to improve the school community and culture.

“Quite honestly, we wanted to give students a night off,” Mr. Stanley said.

After the administration’s decision, Mr. Kristof rescheduled his visit until January. He spoke instead this fall to a panel of the United Nations.

Mr. Stanley was also concerned about an increasing amount of practice time required for the students performing at the Parents’ Weekend Special Program. “It’s my understanding that they started to do a dress rehearsal for the Tuesday night concert,” he said.

Mr. John Ford, a science teacher who came up with the idea for this Special Program several years ago, expressed his disappointment over the program’s cancellation. “I think it’s a shame we’re not doing this,” he said, “because an opportunity to have the entire student body see and hear some of our music ensembles is rare. Appreciating those talented musicians is important.”

William Wu ’19, who participated in the program last year, agreed. “It’s such a bummer,” he said. “Musical appreciation should really be a common feature of Choate students, and this Special Program helped everyone with that.”

Chloe Choi ’19, who plays the piccolo in the orchestra, might be slightly disappointed but she also sees an advantage to the cancellation. “I’m glad because the audience won’t say that they were ‘forced’ to listen to our music,” Choi said. “I hate seeing the thoughtless, bored looks in the audience’s faces.”

She went on, “I don’t want music to be a waste of someone else’s time. I want people to appreciate music, though, I wish we had a better way of showing that.”

There will still be a performance on Saturday night this year, open to all members of the Choate community. Additionally, as Mr. Stanley mentioned, students are welcome to go to the dress rehearsal for this performance on Tuesday night, when the mandatory Special Program would have taken place.

Next year, however, the performance is likely to be, once again, mandatory for all students. Mr. Stanley said, “We’re looking at the music program for every other year, and maybe doing a different program on off years.” Students are given a day off of classes on Wednesday, before the start of Parents’ Weekend and the day after this program. Mr. Stanley said, “It is the single best night of the year to have a Special Program.”

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