Fortes For Fires Aids Fire Victims With Music

Geoffrey Zhang | Staff Writer

On the 21st of December, Irvington High School’s Resonance! club held its annual benefit concert to raise funds for local wildfire victims. By the end of the night, they managed to raise over $2000 for the wildfire relief organization CalFund. Dubbed Forte for Fires, this annual benefit concert consisted of a variety of musical acts, ranging from solo and duet singers, acapella groups to jazz bands, instrumental ensembles, and piano players from all across the Fremont Unified School District (FUSD).

This year, Resonance! split their talent up into two concerts: one in the early afternoon and one at night, with some acts repeated between both concerts. Hosting the show were MCs Thomas Wilson (11) and Tatum Le (11), who introduced the acts with their jokes and skits. The early afternoon showing began with an instrumental rendition of La La Land by Irene Geng (12), Allison Liu (12), and Sophia Shih (12), followed by a cover of Into the Unknown sung by Felicia Chang (11) and Susana Lara (9). MSJ’s Rishi Baskar and Soham Saha (11) later followed with their acoustic cover of OneRepublic’s Counting Stars, the first of many acts from student groups outside of Irvington High School. Other notable performances from the first concert included: Mr. Rodda’s Choir Babies, American High School’s Jazz Band, MSJ’s Syncopasians, a chamber ensemble led by Will Peng (11) that played the Wii Shop Theme, and a performance by a sax octet from Irvington. Ending the first show was Twinkle Twinkle, a pop mashup performed on the piano by Chloe Retika (12), and sung by Anika Goel (12) and Felicia Chang (11).

Guitarist Suhel Keswani (11), who performed in the Wii Shop Theme act, was proud of the performance his ensemble made despite the road bumps they faced along the way. “It was a bit rough around the edges, but [our performance] went fairly well,” Keswani said, “We struggled with tempo in the beginning, but we pushed through and the audience ended up really loving our piece.”

However, that wasn’t the end of the afternoon show for Resonance! performers like Suhel. Many of the groups went on to perform encore performances in the second concert of the night, including the Wii Shop Theme ensemble and groups such as Mr. Rodda’s Choir Babies. The night performance also saw the addition of a few new acts ranging from a jazz ensemble from Irvington that played Limbo Jazz to a solo cover of Can’t Help Falling in Love by Rakesh Peddibhotla (12) to quartet acts that displayed the various vocal and musical talents Fremont students possess. All in all, 21 distinct acts were performed across the two concerts.

The night was also not without its difficulties. Coordinating the whole concert backstage was the behind the scenes team led by Mr. Willer and stagehand Kelly Joyce (11); however, many in the team were first-time stagehands that night.

“As backstage crew, we had to test mics, set up stands, and ensure the performance goes smoothly. But we have very little experience, so we didn’t know how some of the equipment worked, which led to some mistakes during the show,” said stagehands Darren Chang (11). 

Rapid act changes and last-minute additions often left the team scrambling to ensure the concert proceeded on time; however, the crew managed to end the night without displaying any obvious errors to the audience.

“Overall, running the concert was fun, but stressful at times,” said Joyce. “But it’s for a good cause, and that’s what makes it worth it.”

Fortes for Fires continues Resonance! club’s long-standing relationship with social advocacy through music. While Fortes for Fires is the largest benefit event of the school year for Resonance!, the club hopes the host more community concerts in the coming months to continue supporting causes like the California Wildfire Fund.