Student Performers Unlock The Key to Change Concert


Julie Chung (Loomis ’21)

The Key to Change concert has garnered over a thousand views on Youtube.

Even during quarantine, students are finding ways to connect and create. The Renaissance Ensemble, an interscholastic organization dedicated to the performing arts, premiered its first concert, The Key to Change, live on Youtube on Sunday, August 30.

The concert featured over 40 student performers from six schools, including 16 artists from Hotchkiss. All proceeds from the concert were donated to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The concert was held in conjunction with Black Link of Independent School Summit (BLISS), a student-run initiative that promotes interscholastic connections between Black students at New England schools.

Earlier this summer, a group of student leaders from Choate, Deerfield, Exeter, Hotchkiss, Kingswood Oxford, and Loomis gathered over Zoom to form the Renaissance Ensemble. Ben Weiss ’21 and Tori Murray ’22 led the Hotchkiss sector and were responsible for recruiting student musicians. Recordings of performances from individual schools, as well as closing remarks on the NAACP, were compiled into the Key to Change concert, which has since garnered over a thousand views on YouTube. Weiss said, “The most fulfilling thing was having the piece put together for the first time. Everyone records separately, so when you hear it put together… there is no longer just one voice singing, but rather 18 different people [making music] together.”

According to Weiss, virtual communication was a primary challenge in the concert’s execution. Baihan Zhang, the student coordinator from the Loomis Chaffee School and overall coordinator of the Renaissance Ensemble, commented, “The collective rehearsal over Zoom was quite difficult. We relied on individual musicians’ incredible talent and self-motivation to submit their recordings in time.”

Mehar Bhasin ’23, who performed in The Key to Change as a vocalist, took part in the song “Our Time” from the musical Merrily We Roll Along. Bhasin recorded her part with the help of Murray and then uploaded the recordings to be edited by Blaise Fleury ’21. Although Bhasin agrees that online communication was difficult, she recalled, “Murray and Weiss recorded parts for different singing groups such as tenors and sopranos, so we could refer to them. They did a great job organizing the whole thing and providing a lot of resources to record our singing parts.”

The Key to Change was the first concert hosted by the Renaissance Ensemble, but the organization plans to continue its work dedicated to the performing arts. “We definitely want to keep the idea of collaboration in art,” said Weiss. “We want to bring people together.”Visit the NAACP LDF GoFundMe page and the Renaissance Ensemble website. Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity.