Last night, students from five local schools hit the Roxborough High stage to showcase their talents in a winter music showcase. 

Performances included Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" and Jackson 5's "ABC," in addition to winter classics such as "Winter Wonderland". 

The concert was a collaboration between Roxborough High, Shawmont, AMY Northwest, Cook-Wissahickon and Dobson schools. 

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Nathan Wesner, who teaches music at AMY Northwest and Shawmont schools, said the simple purpose of the concert was to bring local schools together. 

"We wanted to create a sense of community," said Wesner, "and resurrect the idea of a regional program."

He said the students have been practicing the musical selections since September and rehearsed for several hours on the day of the show. 

Hugh Williamson, who teaches music at Cook-Wissahickon, Shawmont and Dobson schools, said the event is part of a School District of Philadelphia tradition.

"This is one of the legacies of the District," said Williamson. "It's a long-standing tradition, but it's become increasingly harder to do. We're grateful to be here and get the kids excited about music."

He said schools like Dobson, which has a smaller band of about 20 students, couldn't put on this type of concert alone.

"We've combined forces to do what we couldn't do by ourselves," said Williamson, who added that nearly 200 students participated in this year's event. 

RHS as a community 'anchor' 

Karen Thomas, principal of Cook-Wissahickon School, says she saw the concert as a way to connect with the community.

"We got everyone on board [from the] principals [to the] choir directors and music teachers; everyone came together," said Thomas. "It was important to host the concert at Roxborough High because we want to grow more opportunities to use this high school as an anchor in the community."

The event was free to the public but various raffles helped bring in money for the schools. 

"I think we raised a good amount for the music programs," said Thomas, who noted that the schools are always in need of more instruments.

Stephen Brandt, principal of Roxborough High School and former graduate of the school, says he enjoyed seeing the students share their talents on his school's stage. 

"This concert is a way to start an articulation about Roxborough High School and open our doors to the community," said Brandt. "We're at a point now where Roxborough is really taking off and expanding its programs."

Support from the audience 

Virginia Lamb, content specialist of music education for the PSD, said she attended the event to help support music education in Northwest Philadelphia.

"I've been looking forward to seeing the kids join forces for this concert," said Lamb. "Music education should be the core of all education. Music changes and saves lives."

Mardy Tomlin-Corbin, a parent whose seventh-grade son, Tyriq, performed in the show, said her son has been playing the trumpet for about four years.

"I really like this collaboration concert because it's a chance for the kids to really showcase their talents," said Tomlin-Corbin.

Parents Sherri and Scott Weems said they were pleased to see their sixth-grade son, Dorien, play clarinet in the show.

"This is a great opportunity for the kids to work together and get to know other children," said Sherri. "It's nice to see them perform. I thought it was an excellent show." 

Brandt said Roxborough High School plans to host another multi-school event in the spring and intends to continue the momentum for other collaborative concerts at the school in the future. 


Video and photos by Brad Larrison for NewsWorks