Rolling Meadows HS students to present virtual 'Concert for a Cause' May 1
Yet another example of teachers' and students' determination to adapt and do important work in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic will be on public display at 7 p.m. Friday, May 1, online.
Rolling Meadows High School music students will present a virtual "Concert for a Cause" via YouTube. This benefit concert -- featuring 36 vocal and instrumental performers from the school's band, choir and orchestra programs -- will raise money for #214Cares, a District 214 Education Foundation campaign to assist students and families experiencing financial crises due to COVID-19.
Before the pandemic prompted the onset of remote learning, the Rolling Meadows High School Tri-M Music Honor Society student officers, led by sponsor and Director of Choirs Caitlyn Walsh, had intended to organize a benefit performance for their second semester service project.
"We were originally planning to have a live show at Hey Nonny in downtown Arlington Heights, and the mission was to raise money for a music- and arts-based nonprofit organization," Walsh said.
"Once the quarantine took over, however, I got our eight student officers on a Zoom meeting to brainstorm an alternative plan. We came up with a "neighbors-helping-neighbors" approach to raise money for the #214Cares initiative."
Accordingly, anyone enjoying the concert may also help neighbors by contributing to the #214Cares fund at 214foundation.org/214cares.
The fund has already raised nearly $70,000 to assist families with essential expenses. Checks to the fund can be made out to the D214 Education Foundation, with "214Cares" in the memo, and sent to the Foundation Office, 2121 S. Goebbert Road, Arlington Heights, IL 60005.
The virtual concert idea seemed less daunting because Walsh and her students had already enjoyed viral success with a similar effort last month. When the pandemic canceled the Rolling Meadows High School Choir's "West Side Story" concert, Walsh and senior Grace Anderson took the lead in producing a project that seamlessly unified 28 individual vocal performances into a video that captured the attention of viewers nationwide, and unexpectedly resulted in widespread publicity, including an NBC "Access Hollywood" feature, an NPR interview and shout out from Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
"That project gave my students and I the confidence and motivation to continue creating virtual performances, especially now that schools are closed through the end of the year," Walsh said.
"That initial effort helped us realize early on that we are still capable of sharing our music to make a positive impact, not only within our community, but on a more global level."
The Tri-M students all auditioned for Walsh online via Zoom and are now preparing a diverse lineup of vocal and instrumental performance videos. While staying at home, the musicians are creatively using technology to record solos and even merge individual tracks together to make duets, trios and quartets.
Student leaders will then organize the videos and post in time for the YouTube premier on Friday evening.
The entire concert will be available on the RMHS Tri-M Music Honor Society's YouTube channel, tinyurl.com/RMHSTriMYouTubeChannel.
Viewers may watch "live" when the videos are first posted, or they can browse the playlist afterward.
"Although our current situation is far from ideal, we are teaching not only our students but also ourselves to rise to the occasion ... to adapt and be resilient in the face of adversity," Walsh said.