by TOMMY PUGH - The Holiday Festival was a great show, but it also held a lot of room for improvement.
On Friday Dec. 14 and Saturday Dec. 15, Westfield put on its Holiday Festival, a display of various holiday songs for the community. Overall, it was a fantastic performance, especially with the grand finale of all the students together. However, it wasn’t flawless. I’m not referring to the students' performance of the songs. I’m talking about certain fundamental aspects of the show which should be improved.
I understand that many of the fine arts are starved for money, and fundraising programs will never entirely cover that problem. However, in a show where parents, grandparents and other relatives are coming to see their children perform in a show, $10 is too much money for most. It excludes certain groups and discourages attendance, which is frustrating from a performer’s perspective.
Primarily, the audience is made up of relatives, not students. This means in order to see their students perform at all, relatives have to pony up. With other types of performances, like the Jazz Supper for example, the audience is broader, and prices can be raised. But for a family show, $10 is too much.
Secondly, when audience members come to see certain performers, they’re paying to come see them specifically. This means people are paying a high price for a specific subset of the performers.
Also, for a one and a half hour experience, I wouldn't want to pay $10, especially for a short show and if I’m a student with a minimum wage paying job. When compared to plays, which can last upwards of 2.5 to 3 hours, and cost less as well, it’s an odd price. I’d rather spend $7 on a longer show than $10 on a less cohesive patchwork of holiday songs.
In the end, the $10 worked, and there was a high attendance, but I personally believe that this event was not a good event to charge so much for. It was a lovely show, but for many audience members, I don’t believe the price scaled well.
This is another challenge with the show. Solo songs should not be part of the holiday show. They break up the flow of the show, and while they are lovely performances, they belong in productions like TNL and American Pie.
When parents come to see their students perform after paying $10, it isn’t exactly fair when the show is clouded with random people singing random songs. For parents of soloists, I’m sure it is an amazing experience to see their child on stage in such an outstanding matter, but for other parents, it’s probably a waste of time. They didn’t exactly pay to see somebody else’s offspring take the spotlight…
Furthermore, it takes away from time that could be spent on other songs and slows down the overall show. I’m sure the performance time could have been reduced to an hour by cutting the solo performances, and if filling time is an issue, more choirs and bands could be included.
Overall, the solos were outstanding--but also not ideal. There’s a time and place for everything, and a holiday concert is not that place for solos.
I really have a problem with this issue. Two whole bands and choirs were entirely excluded from performing, and this cuts out an entire group from the experience. If money was an issue, this would be a much better way to raise some as well.
Primarily, dozens of freshmen families were excluded from playing and watching. If the performing arts wanted to raise more money, they should have more students playing. This will mean that more parents and relatives will attend, and more money could be made, even at a lower ticket price.
Even more, the students would have more than likely enjoyed performing. Concerts are the culmination of all of the band class, and without concerts, performing arts would have so much less purpose. Excluding students from performing is excluding them from their purpose, which is unfortunate and upsetting for some students. The holiday show could’ve been more inclusive.
I understand that occupancy was a problem, and having a lot of people would be a problem, but I believe there would be a quick and easy solution to this, and that would be spreading out songs between nights, and mixing it up as well. If certain bands performed only on one night, and certain bands performed on both nights, then the best songs can be showcased more, and all of the bands and choirs could be included. Then, all of the parents and relatives could attend over the course of two nights as well, some students would get a break, and others would get to perform the best songs more. I understand the logistical issues like rehearsals would have to be more structured, but honestly, I think the rehearsals could use a reworking too.
I’m irritated on behalf of the excluded students, and I believe this should be solved for next year.
Here, the songs were performed astoundingly. The song choice, however, was not as astounding, even for parents. Some of the songs were downright slow and depressing, and others just lacked holiday cheer, making strips of the concert feeling like a drag. It really made parts of the holiday show feel like a eulogy.
This wasn’t a choir or band exclusive issue. It was all of the bands. The finale was a hit, with a handful of upbeat and bright songs, but before that, a lot of the songs were not toe-tapping, good-feeling holiday songs as much as ballads.
Ballads are not a bad thing in moderation. I don’t feel like the ballads were well moderated. With an excess of slow songs, there was no way to sing along and feel the music. It was very stylized, but stylized is not what one should do for a holiday “festival.” Festivals are exciting. This festival was not as much.
Students should be involved in picking the songs as well. That way, students will be performing songs that they will enjoy just as much as the teachers and audience. It may not seem realistic to invite students to this task, but I think it will have a collectively productive effect.
All in all, these are opinions, and while the Holiday Festival was an amazing performance of skill and technicality, it also has room for improvement. The students and teachers are so hardworking to put this on, and they should be proud of their hard work. However, it could just be made better for everyone for following years by adjusting to student feedback. The students are the stars of the show, and on their behalf, the Holiday Festival, should be just as amazing as they are.