Prisms of Winter returns


Photo courtesy of Lori Churchouse

The “Six Fives” perform “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”

Prisms of Winter, OPRF’s annual winter concert, was held in the auditorium Dec. 10 and 11. OPRF student musicians performed in person this year after last year’s virtual concert and a temporary cancellation.

OPRF sent an email Dec. 3 stating all clubs, activities, and athletics, including Prisms, were canceled until winter break.

The week leading up to the performance was “sucky,” said senior David Moyar, who plays cello. “Everyone was upset when Prisms was first canceled … I was of the opinion that even though it sucked it was the right thing to do, (but) I was disappointed.”

Two days after the performance was canceled, the school sent another email notifying the community that extracurricular activities were allowed to resume. This meant Prisms was back on.

“I’m really glad because it really would have been such a disappointment to have had it canceled,” said Moyar. However, it was stressful missing a few days of practice. After “a few days of hopelessness and not playing (I was) suddenly like, ‘Oh, I’ve missed a few days of practice that I genuinely needed in order to ensure my playing sounds good,’” he said.

During the week before Prisms, ensembles are usually able to practice in the auditorium. However, with saliva testing being held in the auditorium, ensembles missed two days of important rehearsals.

“That heightened the stress level of the production staff,” said Choir Director Meredith McGuire. “We just made it work. We had to be flexible. If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that you have to roll with the punches because you can’t control what is and isn’t going to happen.”

It was possibly even more stressful for members of the crew. “The first time we ran the whole show with every element was the first show,” said junior Beck Winter, an assistant stage manager for the show.

The school made a few adjustments this year to help with COVID safety, including more space between audience members, requiring masks, a live-streamed option for watching the show, and three performances instead of the normal two. However, McGuire said the show felt just like any other Prisms.

Just like past Prisms shows, the performance lasted for around 90 minutes with non-stop music. Unlike other music performances at OPRF, which include breaks between pieces for different ensembles to set up, Prisms runs straight through, as crew members stealthily set up each piece while different musicians are performing elsewhere in the auditorium. Ensembles perform on the stage, in the aisles, and in the back of the auditorium.

“It’s one (piece) after another in different areas of the auditorium,” said senior Jelena Collins, who saw Prisms Dec. 10. “You’re turning around in your seat. It’s fun and a little bit interactive.”

One of Collins’s favorite pieces was an acapella rendition of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” performed by the “Six Fives.” “It was funny,” said Collins. “Everyone in the audience was laughing at it … I really liked that one because it was very clean and well done.”

Other highlights included performances by the jazz band and the teacher performance, but perhaps the most impressive part of the performance was the finale, Jean Sibelius’s Finlandia. In traditional Prisms fashion, the finale began with some students playing on stage, who were soon joined by students playing in the aisles.

For Winter and stage manager Julianna Wolinski, the most powerful part of the show was during the finale when the curtain rose, revealing the rest of the musicians. After that, every single band, choir, and orchestra at OPRF started playing together. “It’s really when it all comes together,” said Wolinski.

“My favorite time to conduct is during the finale,” said McGuire. “Because everybody’s in there, the wall of sound is so powerful. You can just feel the audience and their joy. And as soon as it’s done, the audience just erupts, and it always is a standing ovation. It’s a really powerful, beautiful feeling.”