December 15, 2022
Chamber Singers performed at Forest Lawn Memorial Park for the Lights of Remembrance Ceremony on Nov. 30. The service, which included prayers, poetry and a sermon by a minister, was dedicated to people who experienced a recent loss to help them process their grief as they enter the holiday season.
Upper School Performing Arts Teacher Zanaida Robles said the performance was meaningful because though the choir had performed in the service before, it had not been able to since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“Coming back from COVID held special significance for us as an ensemble,“ Robles said. “It marked a return to service to the community in a way that has become expected of us as ambassadors for [the school], something we take seriously.”
Robles said she hoped the event helped students find a greater purpose in performing.
“We go into events and performances so that we can get experience and improve as artists,“ Robles said. “It is sort of a self-serving, personal idea, but once you finish the performance, you realize that it is not just about you, and that is the most important thing that I can offer to students. It is giving them a perspective through their performance that what they are doing is greater than themselves. It is our opportunity to take our purpose beyond ourselves.”
Sarah Parmet ’25, who sang at the service, said Robles had spoken about its emotional value, something she said she experienced as she sang.
“I went in just wanting to try my best,” Parmet said. “It did not hit me until I was actually there, and we were singing ‘The Road Home.’ People in the audience were crying and putting doves on the trees, which represented them letting go of their loved ones, so that is when it hit me how big this was, and I started to feel that emotional pull that Dr. Robles was talking about.”
The last of the four songs Chamber Singers performed was “Silent Night,” during which audience members had a chance to join the performers. Chamber Singer Nadiezhda Hitomi ’25 said this experience helped her bond with the attendees.
“I had my choir binder in one hand and a candle in another,” Hitomi said. “Everyone was holding candles and singing together. It made me feel a greater connection to the people in my choir and the audience. It was a moving experience.”
Hitomi said seeing the music impact the audience helped her recognize the role she can have in helping others heal.
“Seeing how our music influenced people was eye-opening,” Hitomi said. “It reinforced my understanding of how powerful music can be when bringing people together to mourn and remember their loved ones. Overall, I am glad that I was able to be there for these people in their dark times and bring them some relief from the pain they are experiencing. Mourning is a difficult thing for anyone, and it can make someone feel more lonely than ever. I am grateful that [everyone] could come together as a community to help each other through hardship.”
Parmet said singing with the choir helped her recognize her responsibility in providing listeners with comfort amid difficult and strenuous times.
“I have not experienced grief, I am lucky to say,” Parmet said. “It has felt far away from me, but at the performance, it felt real. It flicked a switch, seeing all these people together, and I felt a real sense of duty. We are not just here to put on a good show. We are here to help other people. We represented beacons of light to guide them through.”