Multidisciplinary Approach to the Arts Fosters Collaboration (By Steve Moreland, Director of Fine Arts)

Steve Moreland
In the wake of Bob Dylan earning the Nobel Prize in literature, we would like to turn your attention to our upcoming fall concert, The Times They Are A-Changin’.
 
You could say we were prophetic in our choice of concert theme, as it was decided way in advance of Mr. Dylan’s Nobel Prize, but we are forward-looking educators here at St. Michael’s.  As we just experienced a turbulent election year, the mood is set for this very special production that will explore the role of politics in music—and the influence of music in politics.
What began as a simple idea for a concert has segued into an all-school collaboration among many participating disciplines, one of the hallmarks of a St. Michael’s education and not at all surprising. For example:
  • Visual Arts students were asked to create political art pieces on a variety of topics, presented from multiple viewpoints, which will be on display before the concert.)
  • Film students are splicing together footage from old newsreels to be shown as background for the songs performed in the concert.
  • Dance students plan to use themes from our show in a performance next semester on overcoming adversity and obstacles.
  • Finally, our Advanced Guitar class recently completed a Bob Dylan Project in which they not only performed his music, but researched and learned about the influence of Dylan—all before he was awarded the Nobel Prize, which served to reinforce and validate our study of him.  
Unlike our previous concerts, such as “The Sounds of Motown” and “Dude, It’s A 90s Concert,” which were spectacles of song and dance, glitz and glamour, “The Times They Are A-Changin’” is more of an artistic statement to show how artists started using their craft and their art as a magnifying glass on important sociopolitical issues. Art as a consciousness-raising activity has empowered those of all ages, races and genders to start a conversation about matters of importance.
 
The subjects covered by the music in our concert can be found in any typical high school Social Sciences curriculum—civil rights, war protest, patriotism, equal rights, and the peace movement, for example, and St. Michael’s as a school is not representing one side or another on any issues in the show. Instead, we are presenting songs that have made an indelible mark on the history of our nation, in addition to the issues themselves that the songs address. The songs cover an era stretching back as far as early 1930 all the way to today, presenting art as political statement in ways we may never have considered.
 
I am sure this will be a memorable concert. We’re all excited to present it to you. Parents have expressed enthusiasm over the positive reaction of our students to the topics being addressed by the songs. In fact, we’re thrilled to hear from parents that students have been asking questions and researching topics on their own, and they have been thankful that this concert has initiated deep conversations at home, which of course was one of our goals. Where one falls on any particular issue is irrelevant in this context. Instead, this show is about making voices heard—and our society desperately needs the next generation to gain perspective and to be unafraid to have challenging, even sometimes uncomfortable, conversations. 
 
Here’s the link to sign up for tickets. Remember, there is one show only, so reserve early!

Respectfully, 

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