International Convocation this year was truly an international affair, showcasing the talents of many Cate students as well as offering performances by the Copenhagen Girls Choir and Afenginn, an Eastern European folk-rock band.
To open the show, Tesfa Amara ’21 and Kobby Nimako ’22, along with John Knecht, director of Cate’s music program and Mamadou Pouye, French teacher, drummed in the audience with djembes and a balafon. The emcees for the evening, seniors Kaiser Ke and Lisa Pachikara, enthusiastically took the mike to move the program from start to finish.
The long, sober file of the Copenhagen Girls Choir took the stage to begin the evening. Their plain black dresses created a somber background to further allow their voices to shine. The group sang a folk song in Danish about lost love, followed by a complex rendition of “Amazing Grace.” The girls were accompanied by internationally renowned lap steel guitarist, Maggie Bjorklund. Continuing the theme of love, Alice Qin ’21 and Kevin Tian ’20 sang “Because of Love,” a melancholy Chinese song that remembers a love long-lost, accompanied by Kevin on the guitar. Changing the mood completely, Pierce Thompson ’20 on piano and Mr. Pouye on djembe and talking drum improvised a rollicking version of “Rockin’ the Boogie” by Pinetop Perkins. As Emcee Ke correctly noted, it was “très spicy!” Moving back to a minor key, Cloris Chang ’21 played the piano to accompany Charlotte He ’22 on a Chinese pop song entitled “A Lonely Whale’s Tale,” followed by Jeffrey Kim ’20 on electric guitar and Thor Thongthai ’21 on vocals for Thai pop song “Lover Boy.”
The evening seemed to come to a close with two numbers by Afenginn. The first, a world premiere, showcased the Copenhagen Girls Choir once again, singing lyrics first penned by Marie Pitt, a 20th-century Australian poet. Pitt’s poem, titled “Gallop of Fire,” dramatically envisions flames sweeping over the countryside. Afenginn created their song in response to last year’s devastating California wildfires. The girls’ voices soared above the complicated melodic line as pedal steel, mandolin, cello, and violin intertwined the sounds of strings. Afenginn finished their set with an atmospheric and moody instrumental number.
As the audience was lulled into a contemplative mood by the seriousness of the ending of the program, Kaiser and Lisa grabbed the mike to amp up the room. With a roar from the students, Alice Qin ’20, Yuki Kobayashi ’21, Carol Cai ’20, Ginny Chung ’22, and Rae Fox ’22 took the stage for a gleefully gyrating dance number set to Red Velvet’s “Peek-a-Boo.” The Cate School is always ready for K-Pop and loudly showed appreciation, especially when guest star Jeffrey Kim ’20 joined the girls briefly on stage. Danish folk songs and the pedal steel, Pinetop Perkins and the djembe, a lonely Chinese whale and pan-Asian K-Pop dancers: International Convocation represented Cate’s best efforts at multiculturalism. Bring your own culture, show it, share it, make it our own.