Mike Horanski, in my humble opinion as a retired Fairfax County Public School
teacher, has one of the best jobs in the entire school system. As the director of Choral Activities at Robinson Secondary, he teaches talented students, he works with colleagues who are devoted to music, and he spends his day with music.
What more could a teacher want? A couple of little extras: his students like Mr.
Horanski, and they listen to him! That was clear at the Cabaret Night 2011 presented by the Robinson Choral Department last Friday and Saturday. On Saturday evening, Horanski sat at the rear of the Gold Cafeteria, operating recording equipment. He did not hover over the students seated at the far end of the room. He did not signal the students to line up or file in on time. He did not need to conduct from a podium. A gentle wave of his hands from time to time kept everything going.
The two masters of ceremony moved the night along at a rollicking pace. Jilli
Powers was the consummate MC; she was perfect in that role and let the amused
audience know it. On the other hand, her partner Ben Johnson was an expert at slapstick.
Dressed “formally” in a T-shirt with a tux printed on the front, he might be a future
Groucho Marx. He missed his cues (to Jilli’s exasperation), pretended to be listening to the Steelers game, and loudly reported the scores throughout the evening. What a pair these zany MCs were!
Throughout the evening, the young singers knew exactly what to do and how to
do it. They were polished and professional in their musicianship and their stage presence. The program provided a variety of music. The four main choral groups alternated with solo and duet performances. They either sang a cappella or were accompanied by acoustic guitar or piano.
The Treble Ensemble performed first, singing the beautiful melody, “Fallin’ for
You.” After they finished, Jilli graciously complimented them. They are all freshmen, she explained, noting how great it is to see such “awesome talent coming up.”
Individual singers followed the Treble Ensemble: Austin Chang, Campbell
Collier, Liam Dillon and John West.
The Concert Choir, made up of males and females, belted out “Hey, Soul Sister”
with flair. Afterwards, the charming MC, Jilli Powers, sang a gorgeous solo, “The Wizard and I.” Other singers included Taren Vail, Lauren Falkenstein, Jane Vogel, Zahra Sanie, Helai Karim and Kayla Garcia-Neal. Helai and Kayla also were recognized by Jilli for setting up the sound system and “getting it right.”
During the intermission, the audience and artists enjoyed the refreshments
provided by the Choral Department’s hard-working volunteers. The break was followed by more individual and small group performances.
Haley Warmuth and Lauren Keating sang “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song,” accompanied by guitarist Stephen Goodrick. The audience also enjoyed the extraordinary musicianship of Joy, Tori, Caroline, Karina (“19
Stars”); Mary Meier and Jessie Bond, who sang “Hallelujah;” and Shannon Keating and Erin Sutherland in their rhythmic rendition of “Ghosttown.”
Afterwards, the corny camaraderie of the MCs brought us back to earth. “Let’s see
who the audience likes better!” proposed Jilli. Confident of her superiority, she received resounding applause. “See how much they like me?” you could imagine her gloating.
But her pal Ben received an equally thunderous ovation. At that point, he played
his trump card. “Who wants to know the score of the Steelers-Ravens game?” When he announced that the Steelers were ahead, a few Ravens fans booed. Everybody else howled with laughter. (Might this young man become another Seinfeld?)
Horanski to the rescue! A Pennsylvania native and diehard Pittsburgh
follower, he suavely announced, “Let’s forgive and forget through the magic of music.” Wow! (Might he have a future role in politics?)
The Select Women’s Ensemble presented a marvelous rendition of “Lean on Me.”
Jeremy Taguding, Alaina Paxton, DJ Palmer, Hanna Parsons, and Maya Davis followed. The Robinson Singers concluded Cabaret Night with “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
If the Robinson Singers hadn’t found what they were looking for, I certainly did --
an enthralling evening filled with music, friendship, and beauty. Mike Horanski’s
glowing critique of the show nailed it: “Very pleased, very happy. It was great to see all the students’ individual talents shine through the evening!”