By Mitch Master, Director of Performing and Visual Arts
Around this time of year, our talented students would be halfway into our fall musical rehearsals. In its stead, the Student Life and the Performing Arts departments at FJA created an exceptional platform to showcase the impressive skills of our multi-faceted singers, musicians, and actors.
Given its format, it was natural to call this event a “Coffee House” evoking the image when performers were often getting their first taste of experience, or honing their craft, in front of self-contained but appreciative audiences, in an informal setting that generated heart-felt responses on both sides of the stage.
Our initial foray into the Coffee House genre was filled to the brim with a wide range of specialties. We heard classical and contemporary music from all grade levels, including freshman students Abigail Gelfand (Moonlight Sonata by Ludwig Van Beethoven), Eugenia (Genny) Aronov (Mozart's Fantasy in D minor) and Eliyah Fradkin (Viva La Vida by Coldplay).
Dramatic vocals were highlighted from freshman Zoe Schiffer (Burn from “Hamilton”) and senior Emily Schiffer (Unsaid Emily from “Julie and the Phantoms”) along with a classic contemporary song from sophomore Kate Winkelman (September by Earth, Wind & Fire). Intriguing interpretations were displayed by seniors Sabrina Carson (Don’t Rain On My Parade from “Funny Girl”) and Liana (Lili) Tarnopol (These Days by Jackson Browne), who created her own arrangement and harmonizations as she accompanied her vocals with a soulful rendition on her guitar.
Coffee House also featured a delightful instrumental music performance by Waldon Reed’s Music Ensemble class (Rumble by Link Wray) as well as Rabbi Azaryah Cohen and Rabbi Boruch Lazewnik (Neegun by Shlomo Carlebach).
Complementing the music were excellent spoken word initiatives from freshman Rozalia (Rozie) Aronov, conjuring a hysterical monologue entitled “Dog Anxiety” as well as a thoughtful self-reflective poem by junior Shayla Mostyn “I am Different.”
The entire FJA community is grateful to these performers for sharing their talents and filling up our Coffee House, and leaving us thirsty for more! A special thank you to Ariella Monson (Student Life Director) and Marlee Shifman (Marketing & Communications Associate) for seeing this project to completion, and, of course, to the singers, musicians and actors that made the Coffee House such a successful contribution to arts and performance at FJA.