Student Music Showcase Features Diverse Instruments and Vocalists


Carrie Cao '23

Musicians and vocalists rehearse in Walker.

For the first time in two years, the Student Music Showcase (SMS) made its debut in the newly renovated Walker Auditorium on May 17. Directed by student musicians Giancarlo Mendoza ’23 and Isabella Wei ’23, SMS brings a unique perspective to the music performances at the school, as it is of the few student-led ensembles that allows for instrumental and voice musicians to work together and perform popular songs for the community audience.

In this year’s recital, the ensemble members worked to create a diverse setlist made up of nine songs, split up by a dance intermission performed by Stella Ren ’22 and Ophelia Cham ’25. The SMS featured a wide variety of brass and string instruments as well as the keyboard, drums, electric guitar, and vocalist performances. Isabella Wei ’23, co-director of SMS and vocalist, said, “You can see how the dynamic of the bands switch during each song. Each student is a talented musician, which makes the music flow together smoothly.”

In preparation for the recital, SMS students started planning in early December, meeting once a week to gather common music interests and arrange their sets of songs. The process consisted of meeting every Sunday to study nine new sheets of music for several different instruments. Saxophonist Rahul Kalavagunta ’22 said, “I’m really impressed with the dedication and effort being put in by the performers, which is sometimes difficult to encourage because of their other responsibilities and obligations.”

For members of the SMS, the student-led nature of the club allows them to project their identity and passions directly into their work. Adriana Bellido ’24, a leading singer in SMS said, “[Preparing for the Showcase] gives us a chance at more creative freedom…We’re able to choose songs that the student body knows and can enjoy, and it’s just lots of fun.”

Due to Covid restrictions last year, the Student Music Showcase was moved outside to allow for social distancing and air circulation from Walker, which was at the time in the midst of renovation, to Main Circle. The pandemic affected both the location and the content of the recital, as last year’s program was cut to only five songs due to the constricted time frame, Covid restrictions, and the limited access to higher quality sound controls. Knowing that this year’s concert will upstage last year’s performance in its refinement, Mendoza looked forward to the improved quality in Walker. “When I envisioned this SMS performance my Prep year, I wanted to provide the best sound quality possible and now, Walker Auditorium can provide that for us,” Mendoza said.

This year’s SMS concert, being mask-free and back in Walker, marked the return of student-directed musical performances halted by the pandemic. Reflecting on the joy of hearing his classmates’ hard work accumulate in the unique styles of music, Alex Chen ’22, current first chair clarinetist in the Hotchkiss orchestra said, “The best part was just the spirit of every musician and audience member. The enthusiasm and overall vibe of our community cannot be beat.” To watch the performances of student musicians in SMS, go to the school’s website to watch the livestream.