Art serves as a practical medium to express ourselves and connect with greater meaning in times of confusion and restlessness. Yet, in a world of quarantine and social distancing, we are at risk of isolation from the arts. How can the boarding school community remain connected to the beauty of art and the freedom that creativity allows?
Schools from around the ____ area have seen the rise of a student-led, interscholastic organization that seeks to inspire and raise awareness of present issues through virtual musical performances. On June 21, 2020, many talented Deerfield musicians joined peers from Choate Rosemary Hall, Hotchkiss School, Kingswood-Oxford School, Loomis Chaffee School, and Phillips Exeter Academy to form the Renaissance Ensemble, in a mission to “embrace the new normal of physical distance to bring rival schools together through theatrical collaboration and creation.”
“We share a love, passion, and dedication to the arts,” they stated, “and a belief that they have the power to shine a light on how the world could be, in spite of the way that it is.”
The Renaissance Ensemble’s logo, designed by Julie Chung ’21 from Loomis Chaffee School, was inspired by the Chinese character 民, which means “the people,” symbolizing the members’ core value of community and their mission to bring people together.
Eva Milan Evans ’21 of Loomis Chaffee School explained that the name “Renaissance Ensemble” was inspired by the Renaissance period of European history which, after the Bubonic Plague, ushered in a newfound appreciation for humanity, individualism, and expression through art. In regard to the latter half of the name, Evans said, “In French, ‘ensemble’ means together. In English, it describes a group of artists creating and performing together. Even during these dark times where human interaction is often limited to a screen, the arts still unite us, they still bring us together, and together, we create and share what we love.”
On August 30 2020, the organization debuted its first major virtual event on YouTube: the cabaret style concert fundraiser for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF) called “The Key to Change.” Two of the NAACP LDF initiatives the members promoted were police reform campaigns in response to the rampant acts of police misconduct, as well as a voting rights defender project, which helped monitor and prevent voter suppression leading up to last year’s Election Day.
Not only has the ensemble gifted its various communities with a concert, but many other performances have been posted on their Instagram page @renaissanceensemble, including a Deerfield-exclusive performance “Disappear” starring Angel Zhou ’22, Atang Peloewetse ’20, Andy Kim ’21, Elsa Marrian ’21, Sabrina Ticer-Wurr ’21, Hannah McKie ’22, Grey Holmen ’21, Adam Sussbauer ’20, Will Sussbauer ’23, Christina Li ’20, and Production Service Technician Samuel Watson.
In the end, the Renaissance Ensemble is inspiring not only in their powerful vocal techniques or the complex arrangement of their performances, but also through their mission which reminds us that the arts serve a purpose: as a sophisticated tool to cope with loneliness, to communicate with our inner world, and to fill ourselves with hope.