Hundreds of Spartans Participate at the ISAS Fine Arts Festival

200 St. Stephen’s Upper School students joined thousands of others at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Southwest Austin for the annual ISAS Fine Arts Festival. The event showcases the best art, music and dance performances from students representing schools from Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. More than 3,000 students attended this year. 
“This is not a competition, it is a festival,” says Liz Moon, St. Stephen’s Fine Arts chair. “There are no trophies involved. Instead, every performance or art exhibition is critiqued by a professional artist. This insight is valuable for those who are showing or performing, and also for those who are in the audience.”
This festival is the only one of its kind in the country and includes 28 hours of programming. In addition to the performances and critiques, students have the opportunity to attend workshops and master classes, pop-up projects and all-festival art projects, portfolio reviews, and college information sessions.  
“It was a blast,” says Andrew Dobos, director of Percussion. “There were so many different departments represented on campus. It was such a huge display of the best that we have to offer as a fine arts program.”
The ISAS festival requires hours and weeks of preparation for students and teachers. From early mornings to late nights, Moon says it’s impressive to see the amount of commitment and dedication from the teachers and students.
“Every year I am blown away by the SSES students on the ISAS trip,” says Moon. “The 180 to 200 young artists who make this trip are representing their school, their programs, their teachers and themselves. And even in festival conditions–challenging venues, logistical issues, not quite enough sleep, and anything else that might come up– they remain focused and are able to present themselves and their work in impressive ways.”
The ISAS students represent larger programs, as about 75% of all SSES students are involved in an arts class, ensemble or lesson this year. Attending ISAS is beneficial for students. They are able to observe the work of their peers and receive valuable feedback from them as well. 
“I always linger as we leave a venue,  and sometimes hear peer students talking about what they just saw,” says Moon. “After the dance concert on the first day, students left asking each other what they thought things meant. Post-it notes with comments left by students were everywhere on the SSES art, ceramics and photo displays. Some of the comments read, ‘Mind-blowing’ and ‘This piece is awesome!’ And ‘I can hardly wait to see your work in a museum.’ Several adjudicators spoke to directors after their show, sharing words such as "the best I've seen" or simply "that was awesome."  
“I heard remarks on their performances and their artwork, and even the very cool festival t-shirt that was created by Nicholas Chen '24. Bravissimo to the students and bravissimo to the teachers who work to prepare their kids, work to set up coherent shows on the fly, and help direct their students throughout,” said Moon.
Members of the St. Stephen’s community can see our fine arts students in action at the following Spring Fine Arts Events:

April 19:  Modern Voices, 7:30 p.m. - Helm Fine Arts Center
April 22-May 3: US Spartan Art Show - Scanlan Gallery, Helm Fine Arts Center
April 24: Reception for US Spartan Art Show, 11 a.m. - Scanlan Gallery 
April 26-27: MS Spring Play - Scary Play Funny Play, 7 p.m. - Hines Black Box Theatre
April 26: Spring Dance Concert , 7:30 p.m. - Helm Fine Arts Center
April 30:  MS and US Piano Recitals, 6:30 p.m. - Recital Hall
May 1: MS and US Jazz Bands Spring Concert, 7 p.m. - Helm Fine Arts Center
May 5: Towner Piano Recital, 4 p.m. - Johnson Recital Hall, Helm Fine Arts Center
May 6: Incoming Middle School night, 6:30-8 p.m. - Helm Fine Arts Center
May 7: Instrumental Solo and Chamber Music Recital, 7 p.m. - Recital Hall
May 9: US Orchestra Concert, 7 p.m. - Helm Fine Arts Center 
May 10: Senior Art Show - Scanlan Gallery of the Helm Fine Arts Center
May 10-11: Theatre Focus and Trouble Puppet Theatre Company present Macbeth, 7:30 p.m. - Bowen 
May 11: MS and US Voice Recitals, 10 a.m. - Chapel
May 12: MS Orchestra, 7 p.m., Helm Fine Arts Center
May 14: Guitar Ensemble, 7 p.m., Helm Fine Arts Center
May 15: MS and US Choirs, 7:00 p.m., Chapel
May 16: Apollo Percussion, 7:00 p.m., Helm Fine Arts Center
May 17:  Senior Art Show Reception, Morning - Scanlan Gallery
May 17:  FA8 Showcase, 4-5 p.m. - Helm Fine Arts Center
May 17: Spartan Film Festival, 7:30 p.m. - Helm Fine Arts Center
Address: 6500 St. Stephen's Dr., Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 327-1213