The new Variations


ZaZu Lippert

He remembers feeling nervous when the results for Variations auditions were coming in during his sophomore year in 2014. After joining freshman choir the previous year, he had taken a year off of choir to give himself a chance to focus on theater, and he wasn’t sure if it would affect his chances of getting in. But when  senior Michael Burgess saw his name on the list outside the choir room door, he remembers feeling extremely happy.

This year, Variations auditions gained many more students who are excited to ‘graduate’ and join the class.

For sophomore Ebba Westelius, her upcoming junior year will be her first year in Variations.

During auditions, she was a mix of both nervous and excited. Her audition song, “My House,” from the musical Matilda, went exactly as she’d hoped, but she was worried about another part of the audition that came with the song.

Variations members talk during  a break before starting choreography in class. Students become more close-knit throughout the performances they do together in a year. Photo by  ZaZu Lippert.
Variations members talk during a break before starting choreography in class. Students become more close-knit throughout the performances they do together in a year. Photo by ZaZu Lippert.

“[Ms. Summers] plays a couple notes on the piano and you have to sing them after from memory, and she does some really hard intervals,” Westelius said. “I was more nervous about that, because it really shows if you can pluck notes out of nowhere.”

First, Summers started with what Westelius felt were two simpler intervals, which she navigated with ease. Then, Summers added a more challenging chord, which Westelius had difficulty with at first but was able to get on the second try.

But unlike Burgess, Westelius found out that she had made it into Variations through a different form of communication.

The results came out during seventh period, but since Westelius has a class that period, she was unable to go and check right away.

While practicing choreography, Variations members share a laugh after attempting the first few moves. This was the first choreography rehearsal for their upcoming musicals concert. Photo by ZaZu Lippert.

“I got a text during seventh, and I checked my phone really discreetly and my friend had texted me ‘YOU GOT IN!’” Westelius said. “Then right after seventh was done, I ran out of class and ran across the school and my friends came running towards me and we had one of those hugs while running towards each other.”

Westelius thinks that much more will be expected of her in Variations, such as sight-reading or learning songs in each vocal part and then bringing it together with the whole class.

Burgess had a similar experience to what Westelius expects in his transition to Variations from freshman choir.

“[In Variations] we have to learn the songs more ourselves,” Burgess said. “Or we can do sectionals and learn our songs by part and then we come back together and sing, whereas in freshmen choir, there was less expected of us.”

Through his two years in Variations, he feels that he’s definitely become closer with those around him.

Variations practices choreography for their next concert. The musicals concert is one of the events in which they combine music and movement together in their performances. Photo by ZaZu Lippert.

“When we go on trips, like last year’s Chicago trip and the coming Hawaii trip,” Burgess said, “The trips really allow people to bond with their classmates a lot more.”

For junior Shanuk Tulshibagwale, who will be entering into his second year of Variations this year, he remembers experiencing the same nerves that Westelius and Burgess had, but now he’s simply excited to see what the next year holds. He agrees with Burgess that with Variations comes more responsibility, but also more opportunity.

“With Variations, there’s always something to be done,” Tulshibagwale said. “It’s more work [than Concert Choir], but I like it because it’s music.”