By James Lau
Special to The Tribune
Spring Break during the COVID-19 pandemic meant staying at home.
For nearly 80 middle and high school students, they chose to dedicate that time to learning, practicing and virtually performing “Pure Imagination” from “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
“This arrangement of ‘Pure Imagination’ was written by a dear friend and holds a special place for the SMHS Chamber Choir members,” explained Tammi Alderman, director of the Choral Music Department at San Marino High School. “We first performed this piece in 2016 when many of the singers were freshmen.”
“I’ve witnessed my students rise to the occasion and sing with heart and soul before, but it was different this time,” said Derek Jamieson, Choral and Jazz Band director at Huntington Middle School. “The passion and diligence that they displayed on this project — especially considering the circumstances — was impressive. Getting the notes right, the tech right, the lighting right, the video quality right, all with no direct in-person instruction was amazing to witness. ‘Pure Imagination’ strikes all the right chords for me during this crisis, showing again how powerful and necessary art is to us all.”
This performance highlights the types of programs that may have to be cut by the San Marino Unified School District as it looks to balance a difficult budget deficit that has been further impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. To avoid losing these types of programs, the Schools Foundation set a goal of raising money to $2.3 million by May 12.
One of the students in the video is San Marino High Senior Leighton McBryde.
“I hope that whoever views it will, first of all, enjoy this unique music experience in a time that we aren’t able to gather together for concerts,” said McBryde. “I also hope that everyone will feel encouraged to help ensure that programs such as choir will remain a priority of San Marino schools as they not only provide a space for student creativity but also create invaluable events for cultural and artistic enrichment for our fellow San Marino residents.”
Alderman expressed a similar tone.
“The piece reminds the listeners to look inside themselves to find the infinite array of possibilities available to them. In the hardest times, we look to our family, friends and our arts to make us feel safe and comforted. These lyrics also remind us that in order to make the best world for ourselves, first we must dream,” Alderman said.
To view the video, visit WeAreSanMarino.org.
James Lau is executive director of San Marino Schools Foundation.