Hitting the Right Notes 7

A Crescendo 
at North Springs

If you listen and look closely you might be one of the fortunate neighbors, as I am, to witness the impressive sights and sounds coming from North Springs Charter High School. Perhaps you’ll hear the rich tones coming from the young award winning musicians, ensembles, vocalists, or musical theater. Or perhaps, you might catch a glimpse of their dancers, thespians or designers of he many sets that are created by and for students. Or perhaps you want to support your community, as I do, by attending the annual large-scale spring theater production, reminding yourself you are sitting in a high school theater despite feeling you are watching a Broadway caliber performance at The Fox.  As the daughter of a professional classical musician, to know that one of our local high schools places this much importance on the arts, more than excites me.  This acclaimed visual and performing arts magnet school is being noticed by more than just our community, winning attention from around the country and the world.

It’s lovely to imagine how it must feel to attend a high school where your passions can be practiced and lived out daily.  With roughly 1,600 students enrolled, 1,200 are involved in some way in the arts programs at North Springs.  Their course offering is deep in the arts department with courses in  dance, theater, chorus, orchestra, band, marching band, stage set building, visual arts, and coming in 2016-2017, music technology.

So what exactly makes North Springs the cream of the crop when it comes to the visual and performing arts?  I’m certain it’s the incredibly talented faculty as well as the dedicated students.  In speaking with the seasoned department chair of visual and performing arts, James Landreau, it’s hard not to be infected by his enthusiasm and dedication.  Having a mile-long list of accomplishments and associations he is active in, as well as multiple music  and performing arts degrees, Landreau believes the large handful of alums who have gone on to highlighted musical careers (Broadway, professional musicians) would credit the faculty’s overwhelming dedication to helping students live out their goals and dreams.  Teachers do this by sharing their personal connections and experiences and show, by example, how to keep music in the forefront of their lives.  How about sitting in class and having a top Broadway actor come in to perform?  Yep, this happened just last week. Actor and choreographer David Rossetti is a dance captain with the Broadway production of “Annie,” recently helping Tony-winner Faith Prince as Miss Hannigan and is currently in rehearsals with 3 new “orphans” getting ready for their Broadway debuts at the end of July!  This sort of visit seems to be the norm at North Springs.

The faculty also carries an impressive  list of accomplishments.  Besides Landreau, Van Craven, Michael Brown, Denise Kent, and Andrea Smith are among the talented pool of performing arts instructors.  Craven was a professional pianist prior to working the past 15 years at NSHS. Brown was an accomplished saxophonist as well as a member of punk and ska bands before coming to NSHS 13 years ago, and both Kent and Smith have danced and performed with the best prior to calling NSHS their career home.  This is a faculty stacked with experience, ready to help students turn their passions and talents into a career.

As for the students, in the short time I sat speaking with Landreau and the other faculty, I overheard strains from the opera”Carmen” being perfectly executed by a student violinist, a feat even seasoned orchestra members struggle with.  Many of the students not only participate in groups, troupes, and ensembles at NSHS, but also contribute to Atlanta’s vital music scene in esteemed organizations such as the Rialto Youth Jazz Orchestra, Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, Buckhead Youth Orchestra, and Atlanta Youth Symphony.

Both faculty and students are currently working feverishly on making this year’s large spring musical theater performance of “The Wiz” one of their best yet.  Every aspect of the musical is crafted, practiced, and performed by the students from set design to acting. A full orchestra will be in the pit!  With performance dates of April 15-17 and 20-21, there is no doubt in my mind every seat in the house will be filled. And they normally are, because eyes from across the globe have their sights set on who will next rise from the exceptional North Springs Charter High Schools performing arts program. Will you be there?  I certainly will.