Music to Their Ears

Sidwell Friends students missed out on a lot during the Distance Learning Plan; everything from lunch with their friends to a traditional graduation seemingly vanished. While teachers and students rose to the occasion with innovation, drive, and creativity, some things just can’t be even close to what they were.

“It makes sense that the School focused more on the hardcore, purely academic classes—math, science, English,” said Olivia Emerson ’20. “They’re a lot easier to replicate online than an art class. I’ve been part of an all-girl a capella group at school for a few years, and right before school ended we’d been working super hard to perform a song. The concert where we were supposed to perform it was cancelled, and I thought it would be really great to do some kind of final concert to close out the year. Then I thought it would be great if anybody could submit a video of them doing anything—not just singing—and we could make it a fundraiser.”

What was going to be a concert featuring one group now will feature Sidwell students who have signed up to be a part of what’s now a charity benefit. The concert will play on YouTube on Saturday, June 20 at 3 p.m.; in the video’s description there will be a link where viewers can donate to Bread for the City, which provides food, clothing, medical care, and legal and social services to those living in poverty. The benefit will also highlight the World Health Organization’s coronavirus response fund. Those who miss the premiere will be able to watch (and donate) at their convenience.

“Right now it’s easy to do nothing, just because we’re stuck inside all day long. We’re shut off from the outside world,” Olivia said. “I just thought that I should shake myself from the false belief that we’re all fine and no one’s being affected by this virus and just do something with my free time that is beneficial not just to the performing arts community, but people around the world and around DC.”

For Olivia, it was important to keep at least one of the charities close to home. “I think it’s really important to remember how many people are in need where we live. I think sometimes people forget that we don’t live in a city where everyone lives the same as most people at Sidwell do,” she said. “I’ve never really had the desire to do a service trip somewhere else because it almost feels like I’m abandoning people who need help and are much closer. So I definitely wanted to pick a charity that would help DC, and then I wanted to pick one that was more global.”

The virtual concert benefits more than the charities. “The people who are submitting these videos love doing what they’re doing, so it’s great because they get to have an outlet to express themselves and do something they love to do while helping other people,” Olivia said. “I’d like people to consider how much good they have the ability to do with what they have, even if it’s just you really like to sing. Even if it’s the shortest submission or the smallest donation, it will help a lot of people. And it will make the concert better, too.”

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