Creativity in the Time of Covid–Feb. 21, 2021

VPA Music Achieves All Superiors

While Covid has put a damper on musical performances, the Florida Band Association is still holding Solo and Ensemble Music Performance Assessments (MPAs). These performances are adjudicated by a panel of expert judges. It’s a great chance for our musicians to be assessed on a global scale, where their skills are judged alongside those of music students from across the state.

This year, all VPA students earned a Superior Rating, the highest achievement at the MPAs! Congratulations to the students, their teachers, and VPA Music for this flawless turnout.

Ben Strom—Piano Solo: Superior!

Colin Leonard—Saxophone Solo: Superior!

Zionna Williams and Keeran Sundaram—Saxophone Duet: Superior!

Keeran Sundaram—Saxophone Solo: Superior!

Dante Rutland—Marimba Solo: Superior!

VPA Celebrates Black History

Dominic Harris

In Black History recognition this week, we celebrated one of the greats, Officer Dominic Harris, Booker High School VPA Art grad (c/o ’91). Officer Harris is a great example of how, while we are honored to prepare students for careers in the arts, the VPA’s larger goal is producing well-rounded, empathetic critical thinkers who can apply their skills to any passion.

Officer Harris was Booker’s School Resource Officer for a few years, and he quickly became legendary. His devotion to this school is evident in all he does.

Not only does Officer Harris demonstrate his passion for protecting people through law enforcement, he is also the founder of the charitable organization, Brotherhood of Men. The group, based in Newtown, provides support to male youth through mentoring, community projects, fellowship and field trips.

If you’d like to make a difference, Brotherhood of Men would be a worthy investment of your time or financial donation. Dominic Harris is making a difference, one life at a time. We’re proud that he is an alumnus of our VPA Visual Art Department.

Lessons on Black History in the Arts

As we move through February, the intersections of Black history, culture and the arts are being explored across the VPA. A few activities from this week:


VPA Dance, where Black artforms are an explicit and integral part of the curriculum, culminated this week with a Master Class through Abraham.In.Motion, a NYC-based dance company whose mission is to “create an evocative interdisciplinary body of work” that explores identity vis a vis personal history.

The interactive class connected VPA dancers with A.I.M. principal dancer Catherine Kirk, who taught choreography and offered constructive feedback to BHS students. The energy in the room was palpable.

Outside the studios, this week new posters of Black influencers in the Dance world were hung for display.


This week in Ms. Smith’s level 2 acting class, students read August Wilson’s Pulitzer-prize winning drama, “The Piano Lesson.” The play is one in a series of Wilson’s plays that examines the possibility of “acquir[ing] a sense of self-worth by denying one’s past.”

Death By Chocolate: How Sweet it Is

The VPA Music Department is hosting Death By Chocolate March 4-6 (7 p.m., with a matinee on March 6 at 2 p.m.) as an outdoor, distanced event that follows CDC guidelines. Patrons purchase tables of four, and masks will be required for performers and patrons. The theme this year, “La Vie en Rose,” brings a set list of romantic favorites, from contemporary to classical music, including Broadway showtunes, classic R&B, and jazz.

Chocolates come pre-wrapped this year, and patrons can savor the sweets while enjoying the eclectic concert. There are two lineups planned this year to offer broad performance opportunities for a year defined by few: Thursday and Friday feature the Twisty Cone men’s choir, Chamber Choir, and Category 5, along with Jazz 1; Saturday, both shows feature Jet Stream, Vocal Vortex/VPA Choir, and Tempest, along with Jazz 2. The orchestra, guitar solos, and jazz band will be featured in all performances.

You can purchase a table by calling Nancy Wachendorf at (941) 355-2967, ext. 65211, or online here.

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