At 10 p.m. on Thurs., January 6, there were about 230 smiling and proud faces on the risers and stage at Columbia High School, performing their concert finale — "America the Beautiful."
The CHS Winter Concert and Art Show may have been delayed 16 days, but for the students in the CHS band, orchestra, choral and art programs, as well as the passionate audience members, the wait seemed well worth it.
The event was both a musical and technical success and was one of the first salvos in Director of Fine Arts Anthony Mazzocchi's efforts to raise the bar for South Orange-Maplewood School District artists.
The CHS auditorium was full, which is a first for a winter concert. This was an event of such magnitude that it could have been televised live to the entire Maplewood-South Orange community.
It was that impressive.
The evening brought together seven of Columbia High School's performance ensembles as well as the student art and film work of the CHS Fine Arts Program. The giant televisions on either side of the stage displayed the concert performances as well as student art work.
CHS Band Director Peter Bauer conducted three ensembles: the Concert Band, the Symphonic Band and the Honors Wind Ensemble.
CHS Orchestra Director Todd VanBeveren conducted the CHS Chamber Orchestra and Honors Chamber Orchestra.
CHS Choral Director Jamie Bunce conducted the Concert Chorale and Excelsior Singers.
During intermission guests had the opportunity to visit the Domareki Art Gallery to view student art work on display. The art work in the gallery as well as that displayed on the auditorium screens and the face of CHS itself reflected the considerable talent and depth of talent of Columbia art students.