Naperville Central Winter Festival split due to COVID-19 concerns

Nolan Shen, Correspondent

Naperville Central High School’s winter fine arts festival has been split into individual concerts for band, orchestra, and choir ensembles due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Most years, an audience will pack into Naperville Central’s auditorium on a cold December night for the school’s Winter Festival, a concert featuring all of the school’s musical ensembles. However, due to the pandemic, this year’s performance will look very different. Individual concerts for each program will bring smaller crowds and fewer performers, lowering the overall risk of disease transmission.

Before the pandemic, this festival included students from all music ensembles, parents, teachers, and more, bringing about a huge crowd. In previous years, this concert has been split into two nights of shows due to the big turnout. 

Jesse Gross, Naperville Central’s orchestra director, said most people would prefer a full performance. 

“Of course we’re disappointed that we can’t do it,” Gross said.  “Especially because after COVID emotionally destroyed the population of the world, it would have been nice to have the full festival as a morale-boosting thing.”

Gross said that he and his colleagues in the music department, in collaboration with Naperville Central’s administration, came to the best decision possible. Numerous ideas were discussed, including performing the full festival as many as five or six times (each time with a very limited audience) or producing a completely virtual show. However, teachers and staff realized these scenarios weren’t great solutions for anyone. 

“It could be a lot worse,” Gross said, acknowledging that this format for the concerts is a lot safer. “

Individual concerts for the different programs draw a low enough number of people that we could still do one performance for each ensemble and be socially distanced.”

— Jesse Gross, Orchestra Director

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According to Gross, a return to the full festival in the future, when safe, would be ideal. Even though the concert is a big ordeal for him, Gross said it’s nice to have some help from his fellow music teachers when planning this concert. 

Maeve Shamo, a sophomore who plays tenor saxophone in Naperville Central’s Wind Ensemble, had a similar opinion. Shamo said she wishes band, orchestra, and choir ensembles were able to perform together this year. 

“While I’m a hardcore band student, I like to listen to the orchestras and choirs,” she said.

Shamo also wants to see a return to the full festival as it can be performed safely. 

“The traditions we have at Central are very important to students and staff, so a return to the full festival would be great,” Shamo said. 

Choir, band, and orchestra ensembles will take the stage on Dec. 8, 9 and 10, respectively.