Organizing a ‘Ton of Talent’ for a ‘Night of Song’

Daniel Hand High School senior Ella Sweet, left, and junior Haley Holmes are the student directors of the upcoming Night of Songs presentation at the school on Friday, May 2. The event, which features high school talent, will raise funds for the Strong Center Project.
Daniel Hand High School senior Ella Sweet, left, and junior Haley Holmes are the student directors of the upcoming Night of Songs presentation at the school on Friday, May 2. The event, which features high school talent, will raise funds for the Strong Center Project. Photo by Marianne Sullivan/The Source Buy Photo

It's not really news. Just about everyone knows Daniel Hand High School is packed with musical talent. Start with "A," for the a cappella group Encore, and "B," for the ever-expanding Tiger Band, through to VIBE, the nationally ranked show choir, and to Waes Haeil, the madrigal singers. Performances by these groups continue to wow audiences, but what about the talented soloist or the small band of friends with drums and guitars?

These individual musical soloists and groups will get their opportunity to perform at Night of Songs, Daniel Hand's student talent show, set for May 2 at the school. Best of all, residents will have the opportunity to enjoy them. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for non-students and may be purchased in advance from the high school front office or at R.J. Julia Booksellers. The event is a fundraiser for the Strong Center Project, the proposal to upgrade the town-owned Strong Field to a quality venue for both sports and the arts.

Night of Songs will spotlight student talent on stage, and it will also require student talents and organizational skills behind the scenes. Senior Ella Sweet and junior Haley Holmes are the student directors for the evening's production, selected by the music department's head, Ron Sojo.

Both students are involved in all three of the high school's singing groups-VIBE, Encore, and Waes Haeil.

"Mr. Soja asked if we would do this. He put his trust in us to showcase and produce this event," Holmes said.

The duo's work began almost a month ago, creating posters seeking potential acts, posting sign-up sheets, and scheduling auditions.

They sat through the auditions with Soja.

"We asked what song they would sing, if they needed a piano or guitar to accompany them, then we judged their performance," Sweet explained. "We were looking for stage presence as well as ability. We had sheets for our comments and compared comments as we decided who to select."

Night of Song is exactly that, 90 minutes of strictly music. Sweet and Holmes said there are usually about 20 separate acts, from solo singers to vocal groups to bands. Music teacher John Gage told Sweet and Holmes that some bands were rehearsing for their auditions in his band room "and they sound really good."

"This is really going to be fun," Sweet added.

The pair will handle callbacks and rehearsals and determine the sequence of the acts, "which is major." They will also talk with members of the crews who work behind the scenes during plays and musicals, hoping to recruit them for the night if needed.

Gage said, "We wanted to make a gesture, as a Music Department, to benefit the Strong complex and the town. This is a community that supports our programs and we want to acknowledge that, and let the community know we appreciate it."

Sweet, who will be attending the College of Charleston as a music major in the fall, added, "There is a ton of talent here and every performance at a Night of Songs will be stellar." Holmes agreed.

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