Anna Jones

Band sophomore Samuel Schwartz practices the vibraphone to prepare for his audition. “I was playing with a four-mallet technique called Stevens Grip,” Schwartz said.

Two feet approach the doorway as a voice calls, “Next.” Tension rises as a girl stands up, creating a whirlwind of emotions. One foot follows the other until they both reach the middle of the chorus room. Standing beside seven other students, the line forms and all eight mouths open to release a unified note. 

Before the annual Prism concert, students have to compete against roughly 53 groups to get the opportunity to stand on that stage. Auditions started on Oct. 7 and will continue through October. One month prior to their auditions, vocal teacher Kent Taylor told student participants what dates they were scheduled for. 

The vocal department held 58 auditions, each including small groups of students who were interested in performing in Prism. Only 12 of the groups will be selected to perform in December.

“Because of the small number, the competition is highly anticipated,” Mr. Taylor said.

“There’s so much talent out there, and everybody wants to be featured on this program.”

Students such as vocal sophomore Lillian Critchett have been preparing to audition with their groups in hopes of making it to the Kravis Center stage. Recently, Lillian and her group have been practicing at lunch, getting together over the weekends, and recording parts of their pieces to practice. 

“Preparing for Prism is a lot of work,” Critchett said. “First, you have to get people to commit to a piece, then find an arrangement with all the specific instrumental parts, and then coordinate everybody’s schedule to find the time to practice and learn the music.” 

Outside of the vocal department, the music and band departments have been preparing as well. Band junior Autumn Wong also worked with a group to prepare a piece from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.”

“To prepare, my “Nutcracker” group practiced during lunch and after school,” Wong said. “I practiced my pieces beforehand to make sure I was ready to perform as one group.”

While the students play their audition pieces, Mr. Taylor, along with music teachers Stefanie Katz, Evan Rogovin, Wendell Simmons, and Pedro Hernadez sit together and review each piece. 

“The hardest thing is we’re really choosing the best ones, and it’s kind of sad that we heard 58 groups audition, and [to] 40 or 45 you have to say, ‘Sorry, something about it wasn’t outstanding enough,’” Mr. Taylor said. “Yet, they’re all very good.”

Critchett felt “nervous” before going into the room with her group. It was her first time auditioning for Prism.

“In the beginning, I definitely did think it was stressful,” Critchett said. “But after a couple measures, I got over my stress.”

Mr. Taylor knew that students may feel anxious before entering their auditions. He tries to improve the process with some helpful tips. 

“We try to tell them to stop and take a deep breath,” Mr. Taylor said. “We also try to just be very calm, and we’re very laid-back and relaxed while we’re [watching auditions].” 

Upon leaving, Critchett felt “relief that the audition was over” and that her group did “the best they could.” Results on which groups will get to perform at Prism will be released closer to December. 

To Mr. Taylor and the music students, Prism is an important time of year to showcase their skills to the community.

“The fact that we get to perform at the Kravis Center, [which is] a state-of-the-art facility, very few schools in the state of Florida get an opportunity to do what we do there,” Mr. Taylor said. “[We get to] work backstage with the professional stage managers, lighting, [and] the tech crew. Everything is just very professionally run.”