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Performing Art
Bay Haven songbirds: Hannah Jennings, Erin Boudreau, Lis Sundberg, Stefanie Mullins, Isabella Stepanek and Reilly Farr
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010 7 years ago

Bay Haven students bask in 'holiday splendor'

by: Heidi Kurpiela Contributing Writer

What better way to snap into the holiday spirit than to hear a chorus of children singing “Rockin’ Old St. Nicholas”?

The chatty singers of the Bay Haven School of Basics Plus chorus sat down last week to talk about their participation this Thursday in “Holiday Splendor” at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

The concert, which serves as a fundraising drive for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program of Sarasota and Manatee Counties, brought in more than 1,300 toys last year, making it one of the largest toy drives in the area.

Six fifth-graders from Kimberly Miles’ chorus discuss their favorite songs, their holiday traditions and how they learned to overcome stage fright as kindergartners.

What makes this concert different from other Christmas concerts?
Erin Boudreau, 10: “All the songs really make a point. They really mean something to every religion. We celebrate Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas … ”

Isabella Stepanek, 10: “The songs are all different, but they all come from the same place.”

Do you have a favorite song from this program?
Stefanie Mullins, 11: “‘Rockin’ Old St. Nicholas.’ We do old dance moves to it from ‘Grease.’ That movie was filmed in the 1970s, so no offense, but it’s old to me.”

Isabella: “The closest to me is ‘La Fiesta,’ because my mom is Peruvian. My favorite song is ‘Kwanzaa Celebration,’ though, because I like the tune and the different high and low pitches.”

Do you get nervous before you go on stage?
Isabella: “I was always the girl who wanted to be in the spotlight up on stage. It never crossed my mind to be nervous.”

Erin: “I used to, but I started doing ballet when I was 5, and I got over it quickly.”

Stefanie: “I think it’s easier to perform to a lot of people. It’s not just one person judging you. I don’t sing at home around my parents. I’m shy about it, but I’m getting better.”

Reilly Farr, 11: “I’ve done a lot of stuff in front of people. If it was like 1,000 people, maybe I’d get nervous. But 100 people? No.”

Why did you join chorus?

Reilly: “My mom forced me. She wanted me to get in All-State Chorus.”

Stefanie: “All my friends are in it, and I like to sing.”

Do you have a perfect voice?
Reilly: “I don’t know.”

Stefanie: “Yeah, Reilly’s voice is perfect.”

Hannah Jennings, 10: “I sing really loud. My parents wanted me to join the Sarasota Opera camp because I sing so loud.”

Why do enjoy caroling?
Erin: “Last year we went around to nursing homes to sing carols and all the old people woke up from their naps and were like, ‘Ohh! Little kids!”

Isabella: “It was really nice to see that we put joy on their faces.”

Erin: “I don’t think they see a lot of kids.”

What do you look forward to at Christmastime?
Hannah: “I like to go up North and see my family and play in the snow.”

Lis Sundberg, 10: “Lucky. I wish it snowed down here.”

Hannah: “I just don’t like it when my parents make me put on this suit with these pads on the butt when we go ice skating.”

Lis: “It’s just not fair that it doesn’t snow here! I’ve seen snow twice in my life. It’s sad.”


The Ringling Museum will host its “Holiday Splendor” concert from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, in the museum courtyard and The Bolger Campiello. Catch performances by Bay Haven School of Basics Plus, Gocio Elementary School, Island Village Montessori, Manatee School for the Arts and McIntosh Middle School. Admission is free with the donation of one unwrapped toy per person. Without a toy, admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6 to 17. For more information, call 359-5700 or visit

Contact Heidi Kurpiela at [email protected].


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