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‘2021 Can’t Hold Us’ St. Mary’s performing arts students say

Teacher, students produce year end YouTube video; pandemic prohibits live show

Beginning at 12 p.m. this Wednesday, the St. Mary’s College school family, as well as anyone who is inspired by watching young people show off their talents in the performing arts, will be able to view an end-of-year YouTube video produced by St. Mary's College.

The show is a labour of love, produced by St. Mary’s College music teacher Kait Tappenden and SMC performing arts students for viewers to enjoy despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s prohibiting of large gatherings and live performances (and the social and mental doldrums that has created for students, teachers and staff) throughout much of the 2020-2021 school year.

That led to the video’s title ‘2021 Can’t Hold Us!’ a play on words stemming from the 2011 song ‘Can't Hold Us’ written and performed by American hip hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and singer Ray Dalton.

The concert video features various singers, bands, piano music, visual artistry, the SMC Dance Team, a trumpet duet and more.

“Pre-pandemic, the Arts Festival at SMC would be something all of the art programs could take part in at the end of the school year. It was elegant, including visual art showings, the culinary arts, music, dance, and the dramatic arts,” Tappenden said.

“This year, I made the decision that it was going to happen...I do it because I need to. The students need it too. We need something positive to focus on right now, which is why I am sharing it with the community. We are being safe and still having fun because COVID can’t hold us.”

The show is emceed by SMC Grade 12 student Jay Rector, who has performed in plays and musicals and the school’s concert band (Rector also an artist who has had original artwork displayed inside the school).

“The recording experience was so much fun. For a few hours, my friend Lily Masse, Miss Tappenden and I ran around the school filming as much as we could and it was a blast! The thing I miss most about live performances is seeing the audience's reactions to the acts and jokes. There is a huge connection between performers and their audience that online formats have a harder time capturing,” Rector said.

On a humorous note, Rector said “the one thing I don't miss about live shows is messing up in front of a bunch of people!”

Grade 12 student Ryan Mauro will be performing ‘You And Me Are Gone,’ a song by British pop-jazz musician Jamie Cullum.

“It’s a break-up song with pizzazz, so it was fun to rehearse for the shooting date, and capture the spirit of the piece. I set up a proper backdrop, lights, and employed multiple camera angles. It was a lot of work to plan, set up, record, and edit, but it is a video I am quite proud of and I’m very excited for my friends and family to see it,” Mauro said.

“I will always prefer a live performance. There’s something undeniably special about a performer doing what they do right there in the moment, when all eyes are on them."

“With online performance, there’s a disconnect. My favourite part of live performance is connecting with the audience in some way, as it brings the message of each song across easier and allows the musician to be in the same field as the audience. With online, I’m looking down the lens of a camera. It’s not nearly as fun or exhilarating as being up on stage live...I can only be grateful we have the technology to continue making music during these times, but I am hoping live performance can continue soon,” Mauro said.

“For this year I wanted to perform something I wrote. The name of the song is ‘Say Our Name’ and it came from all of the people missing and those who we lost from fighting and standing up for what’s right,” said Grade 12 student Lily Masse.

“The one thing I miss most about live performances is the people, and the thrill of getting onto the stage with the blinding lights, being able to look out there and see people smiling and laughing and enjoying the show with their friends,” Masse said.

Grade 12 student Emma Vallecorsa is the St. Mary’s College Dance Team captain, performing in two numbers, having also choreographed them with help from other dance team members.

“I believe live performances bring dance to life. That is when the emotion and dedication is truly noticed. I miss the adrenaline rush as you are behind the curtains waiting for your number to be called to enter the stage and then giving every ounce of energy you have alongside your teammates. This year, I miss being on stage even more since it is my graduating year...although this year definitely brought new challenges, I am extremely thankful for the dedication that SMC’s art program has to ensure we were able to do as much as we can,” Vallecorsa said.

Music teacher Kait Tappenden said “I sincerely believe that this is the best way to end the 2020/2021 school year.”

“We are so excited about this show because it’s recorded and will be a virtual keepsake forever. Students have gone all out to show you what they’ve got.”

The show, beginning at 12 p.m. Wednesday June 16, can be found here.