May 25, 2019

Tonight, Lyme-Old Lyme HS Show Choir Debuts Story of Local Syrian Family; All Welcome, Ticket Includes Pre-Event Dinner

On Thursday, Jan. 10, Lyme-Old Lyme High School’s (LOLHS) Show Choir, Amped Up, will debut its 2019 competition show, Rise, to the community in the high school auditorium. The show will be preceded by a Gala Dinner in the high school commons starting at 6 p.m., during which soloists will perform.

Members of the Lyme-Old Lyme High Show Coir rehearse ‘Rise,’ which will be performed Thursday in an event open to the community, which includies a Pre-show Gala Dinner.

What is this ‘Show Choir,’ you may ask? Well, it’s group of people singing and dancing to songs that link together to tell a story.

Think Glee. 

But this story means a great deal more than just sparkly costumes and bright lights. Darin Hamou, a junior at LOLHS, fled her home in Syria with her family two years ago and came to Old Lyme. It was then that she joined the LOLHS Chorus and met Kristine Pekar, the choral director at the high school. 

“I love her so much,” says Hamou, adding, “She is a second mom to me.”

Pekar, affectionately known as “KP” by her students, constantly works to provide the best possible experience for every child she teaches. She is always searching for new ways to share her love of music while continuing to inspire both herself and others. Her passion for performing and deep desire to continue experimenting with new ideas led to the creation of Amped Up in 2017. 

This year’s show, titled “Rise,” follows Darin and her family’s journey to the United States, featuring songs like I Gotta Feelin’ by the Black Eyed Peas, Rise by Katy Perry, and Come Alive from The Greatest Showman. The original choreography is by Ashley Racicot. 

“We hear about wars in far-flung parts of the world and the refugees spawned by conflict, but then we go about our usual lives and routines without really processing what it means on a human level,” says Pekar. “I think the show opened up a dialogue between Darin and the students here at LOLHS.”

She continued, “They now have a personal connection to Darin and have heard first-hand of the hardships she and her family faced. They now understand that this is a reality for many people in the world.”

Lyme-Old Lyme High School junior Darin Hamou, center in foreground, teaches a Kurdish dance to members of the LOLHS Show Choir in preparation for the upcoming performance of Rise. The show is based on the real-life story of her family’s escape from Syria as refugees and ultimate arrival in Old Lyme.

The students have had the opportunity to learn traditional Kurdish dancing and a few words of Arabic from Darin, a completely new experience for them. Not only have they learned about the work required to put on a performance, but they have also had the opportunity to gain an understanding of different cultures. 

Telling such a meaningful story has helped the students feel connected to the songs they are performing. “I am honored to be representing the Hamous,” says Philip Sweeney, the soloist who portrays Darin’s father in the show. “I hope this story can inspire people to help those who are struggling and provide light to this important issue.”

Other soloists include senior Hannah Morrison, who portrays Darin’s mother, and junior Emma Bass, who plays Darin. “It feels really special to know that we are representing the Hamous,” says Bass. “I think it’s making us work harder to try to make them proud of the way that we are portraying their story.”

“Telling this story through Show Choir is powerful because the audience not only sees the family and their journey through life, but they also experience that journey through music and dance,” adds Morrison. She notes, “The tones of the songs are very purposeful in that they serve to draw the audience into the story and make them feel as though they are a part of the story, rather than solely the viewers of it.”

Amped Up would like the whole community to be a part of this story. The performance on Thursday at 6 p.m. will include dinner in the LOLHS Commons while students perform solo numbers, followed by the debut of the show in the adjoining auditorium.

All net proceeds from the event will help the Show Choir offset the costs of their costumes, equipment, and other competition expenses. 

“By presenting the story with music, we can connect more to the emotions of these terrible experiences and realize that this is happening to people just like us,” says Pekar. “I hope people come to the gala to enjoy a great dinner and see a meaningful, exciting show.”

Tickets at $25, which include hors d’oeuvres, a catered buffet dinner and dessert, can be purchased at https://lolhschoirs.ticketleap.com/amped-up/

Share

Speak Your Mind

*