The Performing Arts Department fosters an environment within the MPH community where students express themselves creatively through movement, music, and drama. For many, we are a haven from the rigors of everyday life. Though our performing ensembles are accomplished and high caliber, our rehearsal atmosphere is congenial and encouraging. For this reason, more than 50% of all MPH Upper School students regularly take part in a Performing Arts ensemble throughout their Upper School career.
Housed in the historic building fondly known as “The Barn,” the Coville Theater is an intimate space that has always served as a magnet for students. Here we perform large and small ensemble concerts and stage dramatic productions that rival those of professional theater companies.
Our passionate, accomplished faculty offer courses of study in choral music, band, strings, music theory, drama, and dance. In fact, MPH has the distinction of being one of the only academic institutions in Central New York to offer a fully integrated dance curriculum.
Every year we send performers into the community as members of All County and All State ensembles, and students have graduated from MPH to attend prestigious performance programs such as Juilliard, Boston Conservatory, NYU Tisch School, Eastman, Purchase College, and the Crane School of Music. Yet whether or not students plan to study Performing Arts beyond MPH, those who take part in our ensembles and programs move forward with fond recollections of their experiences here.
Courses for Graduation Credit
1 credit alone or in combination with Visual Arts.
Music Theory is designed for those students who want to learn more about the inner workings of music. We explore the areas of rhythm, melody, harmony, notation, compositional technique, and analysis. Students are introduced to the rudiments of sight singing, and practice the aural skill of melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic dictation. An instrumental or vocal background and the ability to read music are required. It is strongly recommended that students in Music Theory also be enrolled in a performing ensemble. This is a core academic course and counts as one of the five core courses each Upper School student must enroll in per semester. Students enrolled in Music Theory also have the option to take the AP Music Theory Exam at the end of the year.
First and Second Semester
(Selecting 2 semesters of ensemble classes is preferred for continuity and development.)
The MPH Concert Chorale is an elective ensemble comprised of students in grades nine through twelve. Students rehearse and perform music of varying styles, languages and complexity, which they perform in concert several times a year. The Concert Chorale also performs at the annual Baccalaureate ceremony, and senior members of the group perform at Commencement. Students work to develop good vocal habits including good breath support, placement, intonation, diction, proper vowel formation, and blend. No prior singing experience is necessary for participation. Students are also given the opportunity to participate in the NYSSMA solo festival and audition for All-State and All-County Chorus. Students auditioning for these festivals are given additional vocal rehearsals in preparation for their audition.
Philharmonic is an opportunity to study orchestral literature while experiencing the joy and love of music. In the orchestra ensemble, students work together for a collective experience by appreciating and supporting one another’s contributions. Philharmonic Orchestra offers students great variety and challenge in musical performance. Students will continue the advanced development of instrumental technique, music reading and comprehension skills, independent musicianship, style, critical thinking skills, and a deeper understanding of orchestral literature. In addition to performance skills, students will also study music theory and critical listening. Students are encouraged to repeat this course in consecutive semesters and over multiple years to continue the development of both their overall musicianship and the orchestra as a group.
Wind Ensemble is an instrumental ensemble featuring wind and percussion instruments. Members will rehearse and perform music in a variety of styles, while continuing the advanced development of instrumental technique, music reading and comprehension skills, independent musicianship, style, and critical thinking skills. The Wind Ensemble will study the art of instrumental balance, intonation, blend and musical style. This ensemble will perform at least two major concerts per year, in addition to impromptu performances for student audiences during the school day. Students are encouraged to repeat this course in consecutive semesters and over multiple years to continue the development of both their overall musicianship and the ensemble as a group.
Stagecraft explores components of stagecraft for theatrical production (including scenery, lighting, costume, and sound) and how they are designed and utilized safely in the theatre. The course enhances the collaborative process of production through the planning, design, stage management, and stage crew support for MPH productions in the Coville Theatre. These productions include the MS and US plays, musicals, and dance concerts. This course may be taken more than once so that students can continue developing advanced skills.
Dance Composition and Performance
This one semester course is designed for any student interested in exploring dance as a performing art and medium for artistic expression. The curriculum includes movement technique classes, improvisation, and the choreographic process, culminating with the Annual Student Choreography Concert. Student choreographers use class time to discover their own styles, develop choreography, conduct rehearsals, and engage in production planning. Students receive Performing Arts or Physical Education credit for this course. No prior dance experience is necessary for participation, and this course may be taken more than once so that students can continue developing their skills.
Dance History and Repertory
This one semester course introduces the legacies of great dance companies and choreographers of the 19th through 21st centuries. Students deconstruct and study historic original choreography, learning to recognize and understand the unique styles originated by dance icons. The semester culminates with the annual Repertory Dance Concert. Students receive Performing Arts or Physical Education credit for this course. This course may be taken more than once so that students can continue developing their skills. All students who study dance at MPH, the novice and the veteran, develop a high standard of theatrical production value, an understanding of the message of movement, and a critical insight into the art of dance.
Instrumental Lesson Program
The MPH lesson program continues the small group study offerings found in both the Lower and Middle Schools, allowing students an additional avenue for pursuing their interest in music and developing their individual technical skills. A minimum of four 30-minute lessons each quarter is required. Lessons are graded on a “Pass/Fail” basis.