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Our Global Concert Celebrated 150 Years and Sparked New Horizons

Our 2023 Dwight Schools Global Concert marked many seminal moments: the return to our annual music festival in person in New York after three years, Dwight’s milestone 150th anniversary, and the beginning of our School’s next chapter.

Welcoming an audience of over 600 Dwight community members to the beautiful Frederick P. Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Eric Novod, Head of Performing Arts, declared, “Tonight we celebrate, we enjoy, we listen, we sing, we play, and we certainly do not take for granted just how truly special these joyous moments are for every single one of us — on stage, backstage, and in the audience. The next 150-year journey in the storied history of the Dwight Schools is off to an exciting start!”

Exciting indeed, as more than 180 students from Dwight in New York, London, Seoul, Dubai, and Dwight Global Online School took to the stage to share their talents, passion for music, and Lion-sized spirit in what is our most-anticipated cross-campus collaboration of the year. While our global community has remained closely connected throughout the pandemic and we continued our annual concert tradition virtually in innovative ways, the coming together of students and music faculty in New York again was magical. They were joined by high school students from Franklin School, Dwight’s affiliate in Jersey City, which opened last fall to welcome its first students. While musicians from Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School were unable to participate in person, their recorded pieces have been incorporated into a concert video we look forward to sharing soon.

In Global Harmony

In the months leading up to the concert, students from each School rehearsed on their own campus, yet it wasn’t until they gathered in person for a few days of intensive rehearsals to finetune their collaborative performances that the program took its final shape. During that time, students connected with friends they’ve met previously and make new ones, experiencing special moments while pursuing their sparks of genius side by side. 

In addition to clocking many hours together in rehearsals with our global music faculty, students who flew to New York visited a number of sights in The Big Apple — and everyone enjoyed some down time when they went to a Broadway show, Kimberly Akimbo, mid-week and a special dinner on the eve of the concert.

When their big day arrived and the first chord of music was struck, the audience was taken on a spirited musical journey around the world, which spanned genres: classical, traditional Indian, rock, pop, jazz, and Broadway pieces. Each School performed its own set with ensembles and featured soloists, who showcased their artistry, including students studying at Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music Pre-college Programs. Parents, family members, faculty, staff, and our global Heads of School were impressed and quite proud.

Our youngest performers were 30 members of our Fifth Grade Choir here in New York, who sang “Constellations,” an original piece of music composed by Jacob Bruner ’23 with lyrics written by the fifth graders. The name of the song was inspired by the stars in our Dwight crest, representing infinite sparks of genius of students worldwide! This performance experience provided them with a taste of special global concert opportunities to come.

“New Horizons” concluded with a rousing finale that included Dwight Schools Orchestra, Band, and Choir in which everyone was on stage performing a piece entitled “River,” which was conducted beautifully and expertly by Dwight Global student Chuyi Luo ’23. Chuyi, who is studying composition at Juilliard, is a conducting fellow with the New York Youth Symphony. “River” was arranged by alumnus Andrew Abrahamsen ’14. Andrew debuted his own composition in 2014 at our global concert from the Carnegie Hall stage. Now, almost a decade later, his passion for music is sparking inspiration in the next generation of Dwight students through our Music Conservatory, where he is a composition and piano instructor.

Pausing to Honor Dwight Family Members

During this special evening, Dianne Drew, Head of School and Global Education Director for all Dwight Schools, took to the stage during intermission and said, “Both our 150-year history and future are written thanks to the incredible dedication of our wonderful faculty and staff around the world, and we are delighted to honor those who have been members of our Dwight family for 20 years or more.” Each one has made innumerable contributions in igniting sparks of genius in our students and we are grateful for their long-term service. They are:

  • Jan Kraft, Director of Music at Dwight School London: 20 years
  • Alicia Morris, Director of Admissions and Placement for K, and Associate Head of the Early Childhood Division: 20 years
  • Octavio Mercado, a member of our Maintenance team: 22 years
  • Sabrina Hecker, Timothy House Teacher: 23 years
  • Ellen Sayers, DP Art Teacher, Head of Visual Arts, and Dean of Eleventh Grade: 23 years
  • Annette Harchik, Quest Teacher for Kindergarten-grade 8: 24 years 
  • Caroline Venturini, Executive Assistant to Head of School and Main Office Manager: 24 years

There are several members of our Dwight family whose years of service mark a quarter of a century or exceed that milestone:

  • Barry Gragg, DP Physics Teacher and Head of Upper School Science: 25 years
  • Terrence Christgau, MYP Theater Teacher, and Director of the Master Theater Program and Upper School Theater Productions: 26 years
  • Arthur Samuels, College Counselor: 31 years
  • Sandra Darzy, Study Center Supervisor: 32 years
  • Enver Purovic, Security Guard: 34 years
  • Luz Giraldo, DP Spanish Teacher: 35 years

Ms. Drew added, “I would be woefully remiss to end our recognition here. Chancellor Stephen Spahn and Vice Chancellor Blake Spahn are also among our longest-serving Dwight family members: Blake for 27 years and Stephen for an amazing 56 years! They have been supported by their better halves, as Connie Spahn worked in Admissions at Dwight for more than a quarter of a century and Maryll Spahn has continued the family tradition.”

Ms. Drew went on to say, “Our global network of Schools stands apart due to the exceptional learning opportunities that we offer students worldwide, as well as the extraordinary strength and continuity of leadership. Chancellor Spahn has taken Dwight from a small boys school to a global powerhouse and ignited a truly countless number of student sparks. Blake, himself a Dwight alumnus, is extending that vision, propelling it far into our next 150 years.” 

Before returning to the music, we applauded all of our honorees for their long-term commitment and never-ending creativity, which have helped to shape our School today. And as the evening’s celebration came to end, we had crossed over together into exciting new horizons!

Take a behind-the-scenes look at rehearsal:

And see below for an album of more concert photos.