Local Commentary

Editorial: ”Do You Hear The People Sing?”

Whether it involves invention, cooking, scientific discovery or great composition, it is when separate meritorious ingredients are blended in a way that, in a new synergy, they become more than each was separately that something powerful and memorable has been created. The new outcome often causes its instigators to remark with amazement, “Who would have thought!”

In Falls Church last Sunday night, at a modestly-attended affair, such a new thing emerged from the proverbial stew pot.

It was the convergence of three amazing elements: a dozen or more students from George Mason High School involved in the preparation for three performances of “Les Miserables” later this month, the cause of Challenge Days at the high school and the Henderson Middle School, and the magical little venue, the new ArtSpace of Falls Church, under the operation of the City’s Creative Cauldron arts promoting non-profit.

All three came to Sunday night’s event as amazing things in their own right.

• Imagine, a high school drama department with the courage to do something as demanding as the Broadway hit musical, “Les Miserables!” The students who showed Sunday night to sing did so with electric enthusiasm and fervor, eager to share their love for the haunting music in this work, as they aim for their Nov. 18-20 formal performance dates.

• Consider this, Challenge Days, a remarkable invention of a California-based group that brings exercises to high and middle schools all over the U.S. to invite students to get behind their personas with each other, to reveal their pains, their fears, their doubts in ways that never fail to draw heightened levels of empathy out of them all, overcoming fear and hatred of differences and dramatically reducing instances of bullying and taunting.

• Then there is the new ArtSpace, the physical performing arts and gallery space that has been made a reality in Falls Church in the last year by the considerable initiative and work of Laura Hull of Creative Cauldron, a new Falls Church collective living room for the arts, the cozy, perfect place to appreciate and incubate the many varied talents of all ages in the community.

All three of these extraordinary ingredients came together last Sunday at a benefit to help launch the Challenge Days at the Henderson Middle School (adding onto four years of enormous success at George Mason High).

The result was mystical. Too few people were present to witness it, but those who did came away with a whole new appreciation of all these elements, and brimming over with ideas of how well they are married as concepts, each enhancing the other, and inviting ideas for how to work them all together in the future.
Yes, and the music of “Les Miserables” helped. When the students began belting out the chorus for “Do You Hear the People Sing?,” the audience was invited to stand, read from their lyrics sheets and sing along an encore with a mighty gusto.