Returning: Schools Spectacular

Two annual spectaculars on Seven, including one created under extraordinary conditions with mums & dads becoming instant crew.

Tomorrow Seven will screen the annual Schools Spectacular.

Victorian viewers will see the Vic. Schools Spectacular, created under extraordinary conditions while all other states will see the NSW Schools Spectacular, a “remixed” version which features highlights of the past 4 years.

Victorian Schools Spectacular

The Victorian event is a virtual event this year, with parents and students in lockdown creating broadcast quality footage and arena class performances in garages and lounges in over 500 zoom recording sessions. The orchestra and hundreds of mass choir and dance performers recorded footage on mobile phones, principal vocalists and dancers who were composited in CGI environments appear as ensembles thanks to a team of ten editors and animators. Musical director Chong Lim and Ernie Rose created  music tracks from mobile phones recordings.

“This Spectacular delights in the expression of hope, light and life seen in the eyes of all of its young participants,” said Creative Director Neil Gladwin.

“This year has been a true testament to the transformative power of music and music education. I am truly inspired by the resilience, determination, talent and commitment to the project shown by each and every one of our music performers this year. They have bravely chosen to overcome their personal fears and uncertainties during this lockdown period to rise above the occasion and deliver stunning performances. I am so proud of them for adapting to the online tutorials and recording processes we have specially designed and introduced to them and have emerged with flying colours and a new set of skills as well! They have all done so with cheerfulness, enthusiasm and a hunger to perform to the best of their abilities with grit and determination. I can’t wait for the rest of Australia to hear and see their superb performances in the virtual concert we have collectively made.” said Musical Director Chong Lim AM

The 2020 Victorian State Schools Spectacular was due to be performed twice on Saturday 12 September at John Cain Arena. Instead of bumping in and out of the arena, makeshift film studios have been bumped into the homes of main cast members across the state to produce a made-for-TV special which will be broadcast by the Seven Network this Saturday 5th December at 7pm.

This year’s modified, alternative performance outcome has inspired more than 2000 students to put in much effort during a time of upheaval in their lives. This year’s Spectacular features performances reflecting themes of resilience, rising up and the art of connection.

Victorian State Schools Spectacular students have dedicated countless hours across many months involving approximately 2000 Zoom sessions since April preparing for this show. Persistence, dedication and determination have been the overwhelming traits these students have exhibited in 2020. The year has been like no other and they have maintained engagement and passion throughout difficult times. Supported by a dedicated team of people striving to give them a whole new perspective on how they can reach audiences through the art of performance, this has truly been a once in a lifetime opportunity for them.

Spectaculars come in many shapes and sizes! By moving the production into the virtual and made-for-TV space, the Spectacular ventures into a new arena. Effectively making 14 music videos all with different styles and themes, the songs capture the spirit of the cast who decided not to give up, but to give into the delight of music, song and dance in the pandemic’s lockdown days. From hip hop to soul, from Vanessa Amorosi to Beethoven (yes, it’s the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy – and this is performed by the Mass Choir and the VSS Choir).

Great songs of resilience from Emilie Sande, Aloe Blac, Stevie Wonder, Goanna and John Farnham carry the show. Featured artists include the Victorian State Schools Pasifika Choir, the VSS Mass Choir and the Victorian State Schools Choir – now all performing as virtual choirs, headed up by the stunning talents of the principal vocalists, dancers and orchestra.

Parents and siblings became crew members – helping performers to set up a TV camera, lights, microphone, laptop and large green screen in their sheds or lounge rooms. Several film kits rotated through the homes of the Principal Vocalists and Dancers, with detailed cleaning between each delivery. Production team members connected virtually to the students at their scheduled times from all their remote locations for various sessions including wardrobe, lighting, sound and stage management training before they then recorded their performances – as if they were all together in a TV studio.

The dance team alone has run over 50 sessions in three weeks via Zoom and Webex to teach all the students new choreography that had to be totally revamped from performing in an arena with massive floor space and to three sides of an audience, to what can be danced in a contained space in front of a green screen, in front of a fixed, unmoving camera.

The members of the orchestra, backing vocalists and members of the Victorian State School Choir also worked through countless online rehearsal and recording sessions adapting to the new format with students making DIY sound booths out of their wardrobe, blankets, cushions and boxes. The production team virtually recorded each of them individually before mixing and mastering tracks to accompany the visuals.

In addition to that, students from 83 state schools across Victoria forming the mass choir and mass dance ensembles recorded their performances to numerous songs on their mobile phones, laptops or e-pads. These were uploaded for processing by the technical team for inclusion into the numbers. This includes audio and vision splicing work for each student, for each song, to bring together voices, faces, and dance moves into magical backdrops for the TV broadcast.
This year’s Spectacular statistics include:
– 1440 Zoom sessions during online rehearsals
– 508 Zoom sessions to film and record all Principal Vocalists and Dancers
– 5 Professional Audio Visual kits including camera, sound and lighting equipment shipped around the state to film and record
– 1500 pre-recorded videos produced by the Music Department and upwards of 80 guide tracks to assist the orchestra students in their training

Participating primary and secondary school students have the unique opportunity to work with industry professionals including Creative Director Neill Gladwin, Musical Director Chong Lim AM, Dance Director Deon Nuku, Costume Designer Isaac Lummis and Creative Producer Simon Patterson.

Since its inception in 1995, the Victorian State Schools Spectacular has been helping students to get training and mentoring as singers, musicians, dancers and specialty performers. The Spectacular supports the Education State targets of more students reaching the highest level of achievement in the arts; ensuring kids are happy, healthy and resilient; and building pride in their schools. It also provides students an invaluable performing arts opportunity, encouraging development of their creative skills, discipline, perseverance and confidence over months of rehearsals. The environment is non-competitive allowing students to learn from each other as much as from the mentors. Lifelong friendships are often made on this incredible journey.

NSW Schools Spectacular

Just when you thought it had passed you by, Schools Spectacular returns to your screen this December with a very special ‘Remixed’ show.

The annual performing arts showcase, cancelled this year due to the pandemic, will wow audiences with a special two-hour broadcast, airing on Channel 7 on Saturday 5 December at 7:00 pm.

Using innovative techniques and featuring an amazing playlist, Schools Spectacular 2020 Remixed will look back at many memorable acts and spectacular moments over the past four years.

It has been a challenging year for students, missing out on so much, including the chance to perform live at Qudos Bank Arena. With this in mind, we are bringing together a very special surprise performance from our own graduating Year 12s (who have had a school year like no other) performing online, sharing their passions and talents and celebrating with us one last time.

Assembling a cast of 70 performers in the digital space featuring dancers, singers, instrumental musicians and signing performers from all across NSW is a technical feat like no other, and we can’t wait to share this exceptional performance with you.

This is a broadcast…an experience, you will not forget.

2020 has forced us all to be innovative in our practices, so tune in to Channel 7 on Saturday 5 December at 7:00 pm to watch the hearts, souls and voices of NSW public school students unite to give us a reminder of the wonderful moments over the years.

Schools Spectacular 2020 Remixed is produced by the NSW Department of Education and proudly supported by Presenting Partners, Telstra and the NSW Teachers Federation and Segment Partner, RØDE Microphones.

Saturday 5th December at 7pm on Seven.

One Response

  1. So as nice as seeing previous events will be….sad NSW….
    Kudos to Victoria….who managed not to disappoint the children…in spite of severe lockdown conditions…. they found a way….

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