The Arts Aren’t Just Hobbies

The four year arts program is more than just a group of classes — it’s a lifestyle. Upon entrance into CB, one has the option of taking an art, choir, band, or the newly introduced theatre arts course. These classes can be used to fulfill the one year minimum art requirement, or allow participation in […]

The four year arts program is more than just a group of classes — it’s a lifestyle.

Upon entrance into CB, one has the option of taking an art, choir, band, or the newly introduced theatre arts course. These classes can be used to fulfill the one year minimum art requirement, or allow participation in the full four year program.

As you go through the program, you get to pick and choose your classes within your category. Christian Brothers currently has five choirs, nine different art classes, both skill classes and an AP art history course, four band courses including a Jazz ensemble, which like choir’s Vocal Jazz course meets not during the school day (either during zero period or after school), and two theatre arts courses.

Each category also has different events throughout the school year that highlight the talents of their genius participants.The La Salle Art show, the fall play and the spring musical, and all of the various choir and band performances, including Jazz Dessert and Hollywood Bowl, are all examples.

As a participant in the visual arts program, I wanted to learn a little bit more about my talented comrades, like what they enjoy about their certain area of expertise, and all they go through to make sure their performances are perfect for their audience.

I first spoke to brilliant friend and talented musician and songwriter Jonathan Claridad (’17),  a member of the school’s prestigious band.He began his musical experience at a young age.

“I started taking piano lessons when I was in second grade, but life got busier in high school so I stopped. I kept on playing though, sort of self educating whenever I find time,” he states, adding that “it definitely becomes more rewarding with time.”

The fruits of his labor are extremely visible, not only to those in school and at performances but to his friends as well. I can recall that on several occasions in the home of our fellow junior, Kathleen Donovan (’17), Jonathan has exhibited his talent as we all sit around the piano and enjoy our time together.

Not only is Jonathan devoted to strengthening his musical abilities during school for a grade, but he also makes time to crank out some casual tunes on relaxing weekends with friends. He does what he does because he purely enjoys it.

“Being able to play music you hear, or even make something new is kinda my favorite thing to do, ” he shares.

But along with the all the time he spends exhibiting his talents outside school, he spends just as much time with projects for the school band. He says the time they dedicate to their varying projects depends on what it entails.

“Pep band music, which we play at football games, basketball games, and rallies, is sort of learned through tradition,” the junior explains. “It’s a lot of short excerpts of popular songs, and we retain a lot of them year to year, so newcomers learn it when [CB Band Director] Mr. Maslen runs us through a list of ten to twenty songs in a class to get us ready.”

On a more difficult note, he added that “concert songs usually take longer. [The process can take] weeks to months of on and off practice, Mr. Maslen makes sure to iron out every little detail. Stuff like intonation, dynamics, emotion, and making sure every note is spot on.”

The opportunity presented by the CB band program has been taken up by many others, who also spend great chunks of their time memorizing their music so that viewers can enjoy their show.

Another talented artist who puts lots of time into her craft is Tori Davis (’17), who is a member of both the choir program and the theatre arts program this semester.

The genuine love for what she does was evident in her reminiscing.

“I started singing at a very young age,” she said. “I’ve always loved performing for others, [and] the thing that got me into [it] was watching musicals with my grandparents.”

“It wasn’t until the 6th grade that I joined the Sacramento Children’s Chorus and I’ve been singing with them ever since.”

Along with her participation in the praised out-of-school chorus, she also lends a lot of her time and attention to the school choral program, as she is enrolled in Honors Chorale.

“I dedicate a good portion of my time to both choirs,” she said, “For the school choir I will usually go home and practice songs like I would study for a test, where as for my outside choir, I dedicate a good portion of my week to it.”

But choir isn’t all fun and games. Since Tori spends a serious amount of time in both choir environments, practicing and performing, she sometimes even has to sacrifice other things in order to give 100% of herself to the art.

“I’ve had to say no to a lot of things like spending time with friends or going on trips in order to give my all to these choirs.” she stated matter-of-factly.

Even though she feels bad about taking rain checks on her friends, she truly gives all the time she has to her art. Her commitment is extremely admirable.

But above all is the fact that she just very truly enjoys what she does.

“I enjoy singing because [it] gives me freedom,” Tori stated, “There’s nothing that compares to the feeling that [I] get from performing then hearing an audience applaud. There’s nothing like bringing others joy as well as yourself.”

“Singing is not a hobby for me, it’s my life.”

All of her hard work definitely pays off in the choral world. Tori has a truly amazing voice and when she performs, it is truly noticeable that she put all of her effort into learning whatever she is singing. Aside from all of her choral endeavors, she also dabbles in theatre, with an equally noticeable amount of dedication.

When we were both at school early one morning, she was practicing a monologue, and during one of her hand gestures she smacked her hand on the table so hard that some of us asked if she was okay. However, she did not respond. Even though she had hurt herself, she kept speaking until she finished her lines, without breaking character. Right after she finished though, the look on her face changed to one of pain, and she expressed that it actually really did hurt.

Tori’s talent doesn’t stop with singing and acting — her writing skills are also superb. A good way to find out how wonderful they are? Go no further than the One Act Festival in the George Cunningham Performing Arts Center (the Christian Brothers theatre) in February of next year.

Another One Act writer and true theatrical star is Ian Ferrell (’17). The junior has attracted a huge amount of attention.

Ian has participated in all five plays that have been produced in his time at Christian Brothers, including the recent Star Wars and Shakespeare mash-up, The Tempest. He also performs outside of school in productions with the theatre company Flying Monkey Productions.

But all great talents had to start somewhere right?

Ian’s start, believe it or not, wasn’t too long ago.

“In middle school, I took many reader’s theatre classes,” he stated, “and I officially started acting my freshman year when I was cast in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

And from there on, he was hooked.

“I got into musical theatre my sophomore year with another company and really began to get involved in the theatre life,” he said.

The junior puts an immeasurable amount of time into his performance, even if most of it in the beginning has little to do with actually memorizing his lines.

“Typically, I don’t really begin to memorize [my] lines until a couple weeks before tech week, which seems like pushing it, but it always works out in the end,” he stated, “Whether I have my lines memorized or not, I try to analyze the script and figure out in my spare time what direction I should put my character in based off of the text and my ideas.”

Even with his mountain of homework, he figures a way to make his performance as perfect as possible, by using whatever free time he gets to work out the details.

The most grueling part of the theatre process for performers is Tech Week, the last week before the show opens.

“Many know tech week as a week of hell,” he informs me, adding that many feel that way because of that long rehearsals, which keep them at school sometimes until ten o’clock.

Although the long rehearsals are tiring, Ian feels that, all the hours put out are worth it in the end. “It helps to really flesh out the show and gives me, as an actor, an onstage environment to react to and really live in.” he states.

Like his classmate Tori, his dedication is visible on stage, and he does what he does purely because he loves it.

“I personally like theatre because it’s great being in an environment of people working together to put out a great piece of art for others to enjoy.”

Along with that and the wonderful friendships made throughout a show, he admits that he also loves acting because “I really love to get reactions out of people, whether it be anger, sadness or laughter, I love giving people a great performance that affects them in some way emotionally.”

The desire to make someone feel something, especially laughter in Ian’s case, helps him get into his character, and makes his countless hours of work to make the performance perfect worth it.

I found a brilliant member of the school’s visual art program to speak with on the subject of her art.

Irianna Agnew (’17) is a truly talented individual. And her interest in the arts started pretty normally.

“In our school we all had to take art,” she stated.

But the grammar school crafting took her interest to another level.

“In seventh grade my art teacher entered one of my paintings in an art show and I got first place, so that’s when I really got into it,” the junior says.


Irianna’s imitation of a piece by Gregory Kondos, made in Studio Art last year.

The junior’s success truly gave her a way to express herself and helped her discover a unique and beautiful talent. But just like the other three, she does what she does not for success, but because she loves it and it means a lot to her.

“I like art because it’s a way to express your perspective on an image, like a visual opinion, and make the world beautiful.” she added.

Most works take hours upon hours to produce but it really is worth it in the end to see a finished product and watch others enjoy it in all four art forms.

The four year arts program and other extracurricular art performances provide kids with a place to truly excel in their own creative ways.

So next time you see a flyer for a performance or a show, just think about how much work the artists put in to make it what it is, and how much it would mean to them for others to enjoy their talents.

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