Wednesday night’s Lower School Art and Music Show: Plant, Nurture, Grow, was a stunning celebration of our little ones. After proudly describing each piece of artwork to their families, students performed with confidence. Freethinking was woven throughout as they improvised, embellished, and interpreted the music. Bravo! Click here to see pictures of this event.
The MPA Theatre Department invites you to attend Pippin on April 27, 28, and 29 at 7 PM in the Nicholson Center. Led by the charismatic Leading Player, the cast will tell the story of Pippin, a young prince who longs to find passion and adventure in his life. Pippin struggles to decide whether he should settle down and pursue a peaceful life or continue to make magic with the dazzling troupe of performers. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors, and $10 for adults, and can be purchased here.
One of the reasons I love teaching drama is how it resonates with children—there is movement, humor, and creativity. It also teaches collaboration, communication, empathy, reflection, and problem solving skills for creative challenges. I am excited to bring these learning opportunities to Summer at MPA! Children in Beyond Drama Class will create their own short play, while Beyond Acting! gives Lower School students the chance to design, write, and choreograph. The One Act Drama Camp will challenge Middle School students to rehearse and perform a one-act performance in just one week. We will also go see Shrek, Jr. and tour the Guthrie Theatre! I’m excited to have many of your students on campus with me this summer!
For more information and to register for any of these or other summer classes or Panther Camp weeks, visit moundsparkacademy.org/summer.
On January 11 at MPA Talks, MPA parent and Director and Professor of the University of Minnesota School of Music, Dr. Michael Kim, presented “Creativity and the Fine and Liberal Arts in the 21st Century” to the Mounds Park Academy community. See below for a Q&A with him, based on the same topic.
In schools today, there is a strong emphasis on STEM education. Why is it important to focus on STEAM instead?
Today in our schools and in our public discourse, we are increasingly focused on the importance of students developing skills in and experience with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM. Indeed, technology is now a major part of our society, and technological advancements have progressed rapidly.
Given the pace and pervasiveness of technology-driven changes, however, some of the most important skills for students to acquire are flexibility and adaptability. Our children will need to adjust to ever-changing times and possess qualities and skills that are the focus of a strong liberal arts education. So we really need to focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics), not just STEM, as is the case at MPA. My family and I love the focus on creativity at MPA and that the school engages students in the visual and performing arts at every academic level. As an educator myself, I believe it’s not enough to just foster an appreciation for the arts. But rather to guide students in developing their own artistic skills and to provide opportunities for them to explore, create, and express their ideas through art, performance, and music.
Why is a liberal arts education so important in our technology-driven world?
We live in an age where computers and technology can complete critical functions better, faster, and cheaper in all areas of life. We even have robotic nurses that can help diagnose and treat patients. So how do we stay relevant in a world where even business magnate, engineer, and inventor Elon Musk calls artificial intelligence our biggest existential threat? I believe that is by focusing on creativity, empathy, and the qualities that define our humanity; qualities, skills, and insights developed through the liberal arts and integrating the arts wherever possible in a cross-disciplinary way, as they do at MPA.
Join us on campus this Wednesday, February 1 for two magnificent Upper School events …
Upper School Art Exhibition Reception
6 PM in the Gallery
Artists from all first semester Visual Arts courses will have work on display.
7:30 PM–8:30 PM in the Cafeteria
Hear from both the Upper School Jazz Band and the Upper School Percussion Ensemble.
by Leah Abbe Bloem, Orchestra Director at Mounds Park Academy
Pajamarama was pure joy at its finest on Thursday evening! This Mounds Park Academy original event is a concert created by Upper School orchestra students for Lower School students and their families. The creative endeavor gives Upper School students a chance to entertain and engage with the younger children with unabashed delight. They get to remember what it was like to be a little kid, hearing an orchestra for the first time, in such a welcoming, happy, and fun atmosphere.
Celebrating the MPA Community
We are very fortunate to have pre-kindergarten through high school students all on one campus, which builds a strong sense of community that feels like home. The Upper School orchestra students learn the music and plan a carnival with the understanding that the performance is not about them, but rather what they are giving to, and sharing with, the broader community.
The strong connection between Upper and Lower School students is evident every day at MPA, including at this event. Each student is kind and supportive of one another. At the event, the little ones are encouraged to try games again and again until they win, with cheers from the older students. Even those waiting in line will tell their peers in front of them to try again if they didn’t win the first time.
Experiencing the Joy of Musical Performance
Pajamarama is important because it gives the Upper School students a chance to look past the technical side of music education and experience the joy of sharing a musical performance. It also provides the opportunity for the orchestra students to really consider who their audience is and create an experience for them. The Upper School students learn about games and music that they may not even know in order to make each and every audience member feel valued and celebrated. They enjoy having the chance to give back to a school and community they love so much.
Creativity at Mounds Park Academy
Pajamarama began as a Disney concert approximately ten years ago. When I started teaching the orchestras four years ago, I decided to add the carnival portion to the night as well as to make the performance more interactive.
In most ensembles, it is common for the director to make the majority of the decisions regarding music and programming. However, for this performance almost all of the games and music have been planned, designed, and carefully developed by the Upper School orchestra students. Consequently, it is a powerful exercise in directing an entire artistic experience that they then perform for the community. The Upper School students both embrace their honed musical and artistic skills and simultaneously return to the delight of their youth through the games and activities with their younger friends.
Delighting Kids of All Ages
Students and parents alike love the performance. Upper School parents tell me how much fun it is to watch their child act like a little kid again and jump right into all the games, dancing, and singing. It is a reminder that we are all kids at heart and that we don’t have to grow up too fast. Along with the carnival, we also have milk and cookies at the end of the night, while our characters read bedtime stories.
At first glance, one would assume that the Lower School students enjoy the performance the most. However, watching these high-school-age students interact with their younger counterparts always proves that they are just as excited as the grade school students. In rehearsals, the Upper School students are slightly hesitant to sing songs by Raffi and dance to the Hokey Pokey while trying to play their instrument, but once they get a chance to dance and sing with the younger kids, one can see nothing but smiles on all of their faces.
Join us in the Black Box Theatre at 7 PM on January 27 and 28, and February 3 and 4, for a performance of the play Inherit The Wind (note: tickets are sold out for January 27 and 28, but still available for February 3 and 4). This play had its genesis in the events of the famous Scopes Trial in which the teaching of creationism came head to head against the teaching of scientific fact. Written during the height of the McCarthy Era, the play highlights the bravery it takes to stand up for what is right, while also pinpointing the loneliness of such an endeavor. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit here.
Congratulations to six MPA artists whose work has been recognized in the 2017 Minnesota Scholastic Art Awards!
The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are the longest running, most prestigious competition and largest source of scholarships for creative teenagers in the United States. The Awards program was created in 1923 by Maurice R. “Robbie” Robinson, founder of Scholastic Corporation, and has been administered by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers since 1994. It has an impressive legacy and a noteworthy roster of past winners including Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, and Joyce Carol Oates and many others.
MPA art teacher, Lisa Buck, has a solo exhibition beginning at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson called “Clean Slate-New Work in Earthenware.” The exhibition runs Friday, January 13 through February and begins with a gallery talk by Lisa on Friday at 6 PM. This is a wonderful opportunity for MPA students to see one of their teachers pursuing her passion outside of the classroom! Find more details here.
Congratulations to Laura O’Neill ’19 who was selected to be member of the 2017 National American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA) Honor Choirs! More than 4,200 singers auditioned to sing at the National Conference in March 2017. Under the direction of composer and conductor, Eric Whitacre, Laura will sing Alto I in the Senior High Mixed Honor Choir. Laura is a member of the MPA Concert Choir, Madrigal Singers, and studies voice privately. We wish Laura all the best as she prepares to make music with some of the finest high school singers in the nation!