The Cancellation of the Winter Concert

by The Bennett Staff (period 5)

FSSA announced the cancellation of its Holiday Concert, which would have run today through Saturday, due to rising COVID-19 cases citywide. Image by Adamaris Sanchez.

At 9:40 this morning, students were settling into their third period classes when the microphone crackled over the loudspeakers. Tension thickened as Mr. Frankel requested all students and faculty to listen closely. He began by announcing that this was a very important message, and all class activities had to cease.

It became quietly understood this would not be a welcome message. Statements like: “I am sad to share,” and “The very hard decision,” were all too familiar to students. What they were all experiencing was a great defeat by COVID-19: the cancellation of the 2021 Holiday Concert, which was supposed to start tonight.

Following the announcement, a widespread email went out from Mr. Frankel.

“I am sad to share that we have made the very hard decision to cancel all of this week’s and weekend’s Holiday performances to prioritize our student’s safety as cases rise across the city and within our school community.”

The holiday concert was supposed to run tonight through Saturday in FSSA’s Tony Bennett Concert Hall.  

Panic set in as frantic students texted family and friends that their show had been canceled. Performers entered school this morning prepared with concert attire stuffed in their backpacks, but due to the rise in COVID-19 cases across NYC, the FSSA school administration believed it necessary to shut down the performance.

Dayven Martinez, a junior vocal major at FSSA is upset that the three-day FSSA Holiday show  was canceled because for juniors, it would have been their 1st ever holiday performance since the pandemic began. Not to mention that all students have been practicing for the show for such a long time. Some vocal majors have been staying at FSSA to practice every night until 6pm for the last six weeks.

“I have mixed feelings because they’re keeping people safe, but it could have been more organized and responsible instead of letting us know the day of the show, which was a let down. I really didn’t think that closing it down was an option,” Dayven said. “It’s giving me déjà vu from freshman year when they first canceled Hairspray [in March of 2020].

Dayven’s mother, Ms. Martinez, who was prepared to see tonight’s performance, expressed sadness for the show being canceled.

“I’m very sad and disappointed [the students] are working so hard for the show and put in a lot of effort so I feel very sad I was expecting to see [them] perform because it’s the only way for us to see them improve so it’s very sad,” she said.

Christina Tsamutalis, a senior dance major, said the dancers showed up this morning in full costume, hair and makeup, under the impression that they were having a tech rehearsal, and were all so excited. 

“As the Juniors and Seniors were sitting in the audience, the news broke. They knew that cases are rising and they should have at least warned students and faculty that the show is in danger of cancellation. We all worked so hard to put on this performance. I understand, I just wish they went about it in a more organized manner,” she said.

FSSA’s dedicated stagecraft crew was also upset by the cancellation of the Holiday show after putting a lot of effort and practice into preparing for it over the last few weeks, but they understand the safety concerns.

“I feel like it was the right thing to do, I think a worse principal would have just let it ride out,” said senior Isaac Wiley-Schwartz.

The FSSA PTA put out a statement about the show being canceled today as well. According to their communication, this is obviously disappointing news for those looking forward to celebrating the holidays at FSSA.

“Nevertheless, we are grateful to Mr. Frankel and the entire FSSA Staff for prioritizing what’s most important: the health and safety of the entire school community,” the PTA said.

Given that the Holiday Concert is a major fundraiser for the school (and all tickets will be refunded), the PTA suggests considering making a donation to FSSA to help offset the revenue loss from the canceled shows. 

In a fifth period class discussion among jazz band students and teachers today, students discussed their attachment to this culminating performance versus the possibility of school closure. Senior saxophone player Shiley Kruvi commented: “I’d rather not have a show than go on full school lockdown. Mr. Frankel said we might do it after we come back from winter break, even though that’s not even the holiday season anymore.” 

FSSA Instrumental teacher Mr. Ricks commended his students for all their hard work and tremendous effort preparing for the show. 

“You guys were extremely focused, I’m really proud of you guys,” he said.

Netza Jimenez, a senior vocal major, said it feels like 2020 all over again.

“I have already been through this experience for Hairspray and when the announcement came on the loudspeaker [this morning], I sort of laughed because I’ve become numb to shows closing down since this already happened my sophomore year in 2020,” he said.