Uniting Ridgewood Through Art

Most RHS students have used the path from Steven’s Field to Vet’s Field at some point during their high school career. In fact, on most days from September to June, there is a steady stream of students and athletes, either chatting happily with their friends, clutching a Hot Bagels bag, or trudging miserably towards the library.

There are certain features of the field that are impossible to miss. The blue graffiti scrawled across the side of the storage building stubbornly persists through the snow and wind. Certain joggers seem like a constant presence on the track. And a regal bandshell presides over the field, a favorite spot to munch on a snack or rest on a scorchingly hot day.

Though many teenagers find it aesthetically pleasing, the majority of the RHS student body has little to no knowledge about this building. Its official name goes largely unrecognized, as most village residents prefer to vaguely refer to the bandshell as… “The Bandshell.” Without obtaining the bandshell’s official schedule, it is difficult to know which groups perform there or whether such performances occur at all.

Actually, the Kasschau Memorial Bandshell provides free entertainment for village residents throughout the summer. The shell’s committee offers an impressive and varied schedule meant to accomplish the vision of Mr. Frank Kasschau, a local conductor, organist, and music teacher. With this year marking its 59th season of summer music, the shell’s goal of spreading arts and culture in a “setting of natural beauty” has proven itself to be an enduring – and successful – theme.

However, other than the shell’s annual Tunes in June show, which features RHS’ excellent band program, very few young adults have graced its stage, and, at most events, even fewer teenagers sit in the audience. (Excluding, of course, the short-lived Frontshrub endeavor.)

But thanks to the efforts of the Kasschau Committee, RHS administrators, and some dedicated students, the gap in performers will close this summer. Student Congress’s Ridgewood ARTBeat 2017, an annual event featuring student musicians and artists, will take place on Tuesday, June 6th from 8:30 to 9:45 PM at the shell.

Take 4, Havana Affair, Common Ground, and the RHS Acabellas and Maroon Men will offer an assortment of musical genres, such as a cappella, pop, rock, jazz, and blues. The Ridgewood ARTBeat Committee, comprised of musical leaders, fine artists, and other students involved in the arts, also encourages RHS students to look at the event’s Facebook page for additional information, artist features, and promotional videos.

To many of the performers, Ridgewood ARTBeat 2017 is a way of giving back to the village and sharing their skills with a broader audience. (Plus, the bandshell is an undeniably cool – and outdoor – venue.)

Brianna Patek, president of the Acabellas, expressed the group’s excitement for the event, saying, “We’re really looking forward to performing at Ridgewood ARTBeat. Music has been an integral part of our lives and has given us a creative outlet, and we’re honored to get to share that with the community. There’s so much talent in Ridgewood and we’re thrilled to show village residents what’s in store.”

One of the main purposes of Ridgewood ARTBeat 2017 is to serve as a place where high school students can collaborate to produce a night that celebrates creativity and the many artistic talents inside the community. Unfortunately, RHS’ fine arts department often struggles to find places where art can be appreciated in an energetic, lasting way; artists are frequently constrained to poorly-attended Maroon and White exhibitions and the one-day Celebration of the Arts, with no outlet to broadcast their work to the entire community.

Reagan Jacobs, president of the RHS chapter of the National Art Honor Society, shared her thoughts on this issue, stating, “I’m excited about Ridgewood ARTBeat 2017 for a few reasons. For one thing, I can’t wait to see so many different musicians and artists’ work showcased for the entire village – I feel like the work of these amazing artists frequently goes unnoticed in the Ridgewood community outside RHS. On another note, the Ridgewood ARTBeat Committee has been working so hard for so long… it will be extremely rewarding to see everything come together after our planning.”

Ridgewood ARTBeat 2017 presents students with an invaluable opportunity to support their peers and the arts. With the arts often taking a backseat to athletics and academics in the high school, the event has the potential to not only function as a revival of the bandshell, but a renewal of Ridgewood’s – and the RHS student body’s – attitude towards the arts as a whole.

Sophia Swanson
staff writer

Graphics: Uma van Schijndel

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