At Concord Academy, anyone can dance—or act, or sing, or play an instrument. With nearly 40 courses to choose from and 20 theater, dance, and music performances on campus each year, CA students can participate in the performing arts at every level of experience.
Programs in music, theater, and dance, as well as interdisciplinary courses, develop the skills necessary to progress toward greater mastery and self-expression. And our performing companies are regularly presented with opportunities for both national and international travel.
At CA, we encourage students to explore the world around them by questioning the conventional. As learning in the performing arts centers on the artistic process itself, students synthesize knowledge gained in other academic pursuits and their personal lives, build skills through rigorous training and critique, and communicate new ideas and ways of understanding.
Engagement with performing arts prepares students for success in all areas of their lives. Students learn individual expression within group pursuit, and develop skills in collaboration and communication, creative problem solving, improvising, and working within structure—gaining self confidence and finding inspiration. View the 2023-24 performing arts season schedule here for a preview of what’s to come!
Concord Academy’s music courses span a wide range of genres from classical to contemporary. Performance-based study is underpinned by offerings in music theory, history, composition, and recording technology. All of CA’s opportunities are designed to deepen students’ understanding and love of music.
Through a combination of individual and ensemble work, as well as workshops, assemblies, shows, recitals, and concerts, CA music students are guided to become complete musicians. We teach students according to their individual interests and potential. Some are preparing for entrance to conservatories. Others are taking up instruments for the first time. We invite students at all levels to participate, practice, and perform both privately and in front of the entire community.
Individual Music Instruction
Nearly half our students receive individual music instruction. Through practice and study with experienced faculty, students gain the technical expertise necessary to participate in ensembles and to achieve their own artistic goals. Individual lessons are available in classical and jazz piano, violin and fiddle, classical and popular voice, string and electric bass, classical and popular guitar, viola, cello, harp, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, French horn, trumpet, trombone, percussion, organ, banjo, Taiko drumming, didgeridoo, and other instruments upon request.
Performance-Based Ensemble Courses
From our main Chorus, which is open to everyone, to smaller, selective groups, such as CA Singers, Vocal Jazz and Pop Ensemble, and Advanced Jazz Ensemble, there are sure to be opportunities for students interested in any style of music to inspire and encourage one another toward a shared goal of exciting, high-quality performance. We emphasize the development of ensemble techniques and collaborative music-making.
Music Theory, History, and Technology Courses
We make sure music students have a strong analytical framework for exploration, with courses in everything from theory fundamentals to historical and current musical trends, as well as the option for special departmental study.
Music Ensembles and Groups:
Chorus is a large, non-auditioned choral ensemble performing in three to four concerts each year. The repertoire prepared spans a wide variety of styles, languages, and time periods. Occasionally, the group may take on a larger choral masterwork and may collaborate with instrumental ensembles from within or outside the CA community. Additional in-school events and away performances are sometimes scheduled. For performances in collaboration with other performing arts ensembles, additional rehearsals (including tech week rehearsals in the evening) are scheduled in advance. The chorus is open to all who wish to sing.
Concord Academy Singers
This select vocal ensemble represents the finest ensemble singing at CA. Students become members of the ensemble by successful audition and invitation of the Music Program faculty. The group is a subset of the larger Chorus and serves as the core leadership for that ensemble. Repertoire performed is highly varied and can range from advanced choral music in foreign languages to a cappella arrangements of popular songs, along with the possibility of creating original, improvised pieces. Emphasis is placed on memory, sight singing, and high-level musicianship. This ensemble serves as musical ambassadors of the school, frequently appearing at public events and traveling for outside performances, as well as collaborating with other performing ensembles within the department.
Chamber Music Ensembles
This broad and diverse performance-based course gives students the opportunity to explore a wide variety of music in various contexts and settings. Students are placed in chamber music ensembles of differing sizes and work in small groups, one player to a part. Groups are carefully matched according to student level and instrumentation so that the pace of learning is enjoyable and challenging for all participants. Students are coached by members of the music faculty, all established professional musicians, and may also have opportunities to rehearse and perform with them. Class time is devoted to a wide array of chamber music experiences, including chamber orchestra, master classes, and workshops focused on strengthening sight reading, listening, and rhythmic skills. Intermediate and advanced musicians develop techniques and skills specific to their instruments with their coach, drawing from rich pedagogic and standard repertoire. Some groups work with mixed winds or piano and strings, while others might work in a cello, flute, or violin quartet. Recent performances have included Doppler’s “Andante e Rondo” for two flutes and piano; Boccherini’s “String Quintet in c minor”; Mozart’s “Kegelstatt Trio” for viola, clarinet, and piano; and Goltermann’s “Romance for cello quartet”. Advanced musicians have the opportunity to be part of a string orchestra; performances for this group include Works-in-Progress on Family Weekend and the Holiday Music Concert. A chamber orchestra is selected to collaborate with the Concord Academy Singers and Chorus in second semester. Previous repertoire included “Schubert’s Mass in G” and the Vivaldi “Gloria”. Additional evening rehearsals are scheduled closer to performance dates.
The goal of this course is to offer experience in ensemble playing and performance for percussionists. A variety of repertoire is presented, including contemporary, classical, Latin, and African-based rhythms. A basic level of sight-reading skills and intermediate technical proficiency are necessary. One to two studio workshops, recitals, or in-school events per year are scheduled.
This ensemble teaches musicians the fundamentals of playing in an ensemble and prepares musicians to enroll in Advanced Jazz Ensemble. The focus is on developing articulation, phrasing, dynamics, blend, and improvisation. The ensemble works in a variety of common contemporary musical styles, such as swing, Latin, rock, and funk. Instrumentation includes brass (trombone, trumpet, etc.), woodwind (soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone, etc.), and rhythm section (guitar, bass, piano, and drums). A basic level of sight-reading skills and intermediate technical proficiency are necessary. One to two studio workshops, recitals, or in-school events per year are scheduled.
Advanced Jazz Ensemble
This course gives musicians the experience of playing in a traditional stage or big band. Primary areas of concentration are sectional (soli) playing, phrasing with the lead chair, swing articulation, dynamics, and sight-reading. Development of improvising skills is also emphasized, first with exercises practiced to computer-generated backing tracks, and then in rehearsal and performance settings. Additional rehearsals are scheduled in early morning when needed. One to two performances plus other informal in-school events per year are scheduled, with additional rehearsals as needed during production periods prior to performances.
Vocal Jazz and Pop Ensemble
This ensemble develops vocalist and band collaboration in a variety of nonclassical styles such as pop, funk, rock, Latin, and swing. Vocalists become members of the ensemble by invitation of the Music Program faculty. The course can accommodate up to five vocalists and a rhythm section, including guitar, bass, piano, synthesizer, and drums. Singers develop skills as featured vocalists as well as singing harmony and background, with an emphasis on phrasing, dynamics, blend, and microphone technique using amplification. The rhythm section learns to accompany the styles above, as well as how to fill and solo when appropriate. A basic level of sight-reading skills and intermediate technical proficiency are necessary. One to two performances plus other informal in-school events per year are scheduled, with additional rehearsals as needed during production periods prior to performances.
Ideas put into action. Emotions embodied. Those fundamental appeals of dance are never far from the minds of our faculty. As working artists themselves, Concord Academy dance faculty engage in a reciprocal teaching and learning process with students that predicates freedom of expression on strong technical skills. The Dance Program supports students who are rigorously pursuing dance as a discipline, as well as students wanting to better inhabit body and mind—dance is ideal for actors and athletes.
Overlooking the campus, CA’s light-filled dance studio is a treasured space. This 2,500-square-foot, professional-level dance studio was designed by the renowned architect Graham Gund. It’s a calm and compelling place to turn one’s focus inward, negotiate relationships in space, and express oneself fully.
With formal training in ballet and contemporary dance, as well as opportunities to explore jazz, hip-hop, social dance, and African dance forms, the program ensures that all new dancers have a strong technical foundation. Emphasis is placed on healthy alignment and on increasing strength, stretch, and stamina. Students progress to expanding movement vocabularies, developing familiarity with complex rhythms, and gaining confidence with improvisation and choreography as creative tools.
This performing group allows dedicated students pursuing dance as an art form to serve as choreographers or dancers in one another’s compositions as well as to learn dances created by faculty. Dance Company has performed in the Boston area as well as nationally and internationally. Collaborations have taken place at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, and at the Royal College of London, Eton College, and Brighton College in England.
For some, it’s the satisfaction of a freshly constructed set before the first performance. For others, it’s stepping into another’s skin, feeling emboldened to inhabit a different life onstage. Theater develops the capacity to listen and respond collaboratively while bringing the whole of one’s personal experience to bear in the moment. Whatever draws you to the dramatic arts, you’ll be met with ample opportunities for developing your use of imagination, voice, and body.
Concord Academy’s Theater Program emphasizes creative collaboration. Knowing that individuals come to us with a wide variety of skills, we have designed our multi-tiered curriculum to meet students’ individual needs whatever their prior experience. Our formal classes are supplemented by open-audition productions that engage, challenge, and entertain our community.
From first-level acting courses that emphasize improvisation and storytelling to intermediate courses in theater history, text interpretation and performance, and playwriting, as well as theater design and technology, CA’s theater courses prepare students to excel in theatrical experiences at CA and beyond. Advanced students have opportunities to create original experimental work within a small theater company, serve as dramaturges, designers, directors, or technicians for peers’ performances, or focus on any particular aspect of drama in independent work.
CA stages three professionally directed mainstage productions each year, as well as second-stage productions including Directors Workshop performances. Students are invited to audition for a wide range of theater projects, including dramas, comedies, musicals, and experimental works from around the globe.