The Harmony Concert: online, doing good

Harmony Concert
A still from Linietsky’s music video for her original song “The Dilletante” with the singer in front of a mural by Barbara Rocas, featuring a quote from Leonard Cohen. The paper bag, Linietsky writes, symbolizes the experience of “trying to cultivate an identity as a young artist with Asperger’s syndrome,” and insecurity and a desire for anonymity. COURTESY MARIA LINIETSKY

Sixth annual Harmony Concert
Livestreamed on YouTube, Thursday, July 16, 7 p.m.

To benefit Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates

Inharmonymontclair.org, YouTube, Instagram; Facebook, 
TikTok:  GoFundMe for S.O.F.I.A.

By GWEN OREL
orel@montclairlocal.news

“Hey kids, let’s put on a show!”

But not in the barn. 

Sorry, Mickey Rooney, the barn from “Babes in Arms” might not have good social distancing.

There will not be bake sales, nor merchandise for sale, in the lobby at the fourth annual Harmony Concert, sponsored by In Harmony Montclair.

The Harmony Concert, which is totally produced and organized by teens, will take place online.

More than 30 people are participating in the event, which will take place on Wednesday, July 16, at 7 p.m.

That is more people than have participated in the past, said rising Montclair High School

Harmony Concert
MAGGIE BORGEN

senior Maggie Borgen, In Harmony Montclair’s founder and director. “And there are more than 10 new participants who have not done an In Harmony event before,” she added. 

The Harmony Concert began its life as the Imagine Concert in 2015, when Borgen was still in elementary school.

Every year, the concert raises money for a nonprofit organization. This year, the group chose to support Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates. S.O.F.I.A. provides services, including temporary housing, to women and children at risk of domestic violence. “Domestic violence is heightened even more during the pandemic,” Borgen said. 

IHM is supporting S.O.F.I.A. with a GoFundMe page; the concert will be free.

The concert is IHM’s signature event, though not its only event. During the past school year, IHM organized a video scavenger hunt as part of Montclair Design Week. Since 2015, according to a release, IHM has raised more than $10,200 for local charities.

All of the participants are producing videos that will be edited together, with live emcees — one of whom is Borgen’s 14-year-old brother Chris, a rising freshman at MHS.

The participants have been meeting on Zoom and going into breakout rooms (on Zoom, the host can create breakout rooms where smaller groups of people can interact) by department and team. It is not very different from holding regular meetings, where some people are in a different room, Borgen said.

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READ: NO ADULTS ALLOWED (ONSTAGE): HARMONY CONCERT SHOWS OFF TEEN ACTIVISM (2018)

READ: ELECTION 2020: MHS DEMOCRATS HOLD YOUTUBE FORUM

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At a recent Zoom meeting of performers, Borgen screen-shared the agenda and reminded performers to fill themselves in landscape mode if they use their phone. She showed a participant how to transfer an iMovie to WeTransfer.

Borgen, who has been using film editing programs, including Final Cut and iMovie, since fourth grade, when she went to a film camp, offers technical advice.

A team of teens takes on other roles: Toby C. is one of two musical directors; Olivia North-Crotty is assistant director of performance, Maria Linietsky is doing art outreach; Milanya Navani is one of two heads of merch; Lora Jushchenko is a stage manager; and Ya’Nae Brown is head of fundraising pages. 

TEEN-EYE VIEW

Brown, who has joined IHM for the first time, will perform her original spoken word poem, “Not Just a Female.”  “I thought it would be perfect for the foundation we’re raising money for. Women’s position in society is morphed by male-dominated stereotypes,” said Brown, 17 and a rising senior at MHS.

Linietsky, also 17 and a rising senior, will perform her original song “The Dilettante.” “It’s about how the fear of being a poser can warp your view of potential friendships,” she said. “This is the first music video I’ve ever made. It’s a collection of stills with quick jump cuts, pictures of art I’ve done and various murals I’ve done around town.” Linietsky has been involved since the second year of the concert.

Navani, 14 and a rising freshman, is working hard on her first music video, too. Though she’s had some experience with YouTube, making a music video requires more advanced editing, she said. She will sing “I’m Still Standing.” And, she said, “I’m Indian, and dancing to an Indian song.”

Assistant director of performance North-Crotty works on getting the performers camera-ready.

The 16-year-old rising senior at MHS gives feedback on the videos. “I say, ‘Make sure you’re engaging with the camera. At the instrumental bridge, if you’re filming yourself and don’t know what to do when you’re not doing anything, engage with the camera, hum along. Keep the viewer’s attention,’” she said. 

She also reminds the performers that the video is the same as a production: They should be in costume and have makeup on. And she is also performing.

Having the concert be entirely student-driven and -created, to make a difference, is empowering to the young people involved, Borgen said.

The IHM anthem, written by Borgen, North-Crotty and Jushchenko, will be sung by everyone — edited together. The anthem was going to be recorded, but then COVID hit.

Its lyrics affirm IHM’s mission:

We’re all here,
To make a difference together,
Rain or shine, share a summer night.
Let’s gather ’round the bonfire,
Lifting one another, we take flight.
Let’s all reach for the stars tonight. 

Harmony
Harmony Concert organizers gather on Zoom. GWEN OREL/STAFF

TOGETHER APART

Producing the concert on Zoom has its challenges. 

“Hanging out is one of the most fun parts,” said 14-year-old Toby C., a rising high school freshman who lives in New York.

But on the other hand, meeting on Zoom has enabled more people to join.

“When in person, not everyone can always make the meetings,” Toby C. said. “Since everyone can join from home, we see a lot more people.”

“It’s hard to procrastinate,” Jushchenko said with a laugh. “It’s more productive on Zoom.” But she also misses seeing friends and seeing others perform.

Borgen said when she realized the concert would have to be online she was sad, but also excited to see what the group would do.

She’ll miss the chaotic but good energy of tech week, when everything comes together and people are taking backstage selfies.

There will be an after-party, on Zoom.

And this year the traditional Harmony Concert karaoke that takes place before the show can be full-throttle.

“Everyone’s recording, so nobody has to worry about ruining their voice,” Borgen said.

**

Not Just a Female

By YA’NAE BROWN

Must I stand down?
Why stand down for proving my ground?
What if when I stand up someone takes my seat?

When I look into the audience, well… when I look down the street
I see all these faces
Would they be able to go on if we were to trade places?

Female, a woman or a girl, is that all I am?
Someone who has to follow the gender stereotype and be called ma’am

No, that’s not me I’m not two-dimensional I’m 3-D
I have potential and I know what I wanna be

Girl will not be a borderline for what I can do
Girl does not define me, woman should not confine me
Females, us, you, me, we, will fight until we’re proven right

The days go on wolf whistles, degrading names and they still don’t believe they’re in the wrong Next few days still going strong
Like a girl, man up, you were asking for it, slut
Again I turn myself around just to have my confidence beat up
There must be some sort of mix up because I am not just a female

Don’t tell me the glass ceiling is cracked or broken you cannot just sit there and remain unspoken
Why should I sit still and look pretty
while you’re breaking me down
I don’t need your pity

We’re drowning in a pool of oppression
I am not just a female

Women are spinning in an ongoing cycle and some think we’re doing this just to be spiteful
Men all across America are making necklaces for women with their hands
And some don’t understand that you didn’t have plans for this to happen
But you were afraid
Afraid of the drama, the judgment, or the effect it could have made

I am not just a female
I am much more and I will not be ignored

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