Music teacher Mr. Nick Pignataro conducts the symphony orchestra through ‘The Nutcracker’ on the holiday-themed second floor hallway of Strath Haven High School on Monday, December 11, 2023.
VIDEO, PHOTOS: Hallway Concert Brings ‘The Nutcracker’ to Life
Matthew Ramirez ’26
Music teacher Mr. Nick Pignataro conducts the symphony orchestra through ‘The Nutcracker’ on the holiday-themed second floor hallway of Strath Haven High School on Monday, December 11, 2023.

VIDEO, PHOTOS: Hallway Concert Brings ‘The Nutcracker’ to Life

The orchestra played musical numbers from Tchaicovsky’s well-renowned “The Nutcracker’’ in the holiday-themed second-floor hallway to ring in the holiday season.

For the last several years, the second-floor hallway has been decorated to a specific holiday theme during the month of December.

“Many years ago, before COVID, Mrs. [Sheryl] Ursillo decorated her door, and it inspired everyone else on the floor to do it, and it has gotten bigger and bigger every year,” French teacher Ms. Suzanne Stadnicki said.

Plans for a Nutcracker-themed hallway began last year.

“Herr [Alex] Paul, Mrs. [Valerie] Szeliga, Mrs. [Regina] Iannello and I had the idea of the Nutcracker,” Stadnicki said. “With language and culture, we thought it would be great to decorate the entire floor.”

Both teachers and students contributed to decorating the second floor.

“It was great. A lot of teachers were involved, but if we had a spare five or ten minutes in class, the kids helped,” Stadnicki said.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do it without student help,” German teacher Herr Alex Paul said. “There’s so many student handprints throughout, figuratively and literally.”

The hallway is based on the different acts of the two-act classical ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. These scenes were The Forest, The Gingerbread, and the Land of Sweets.

The plan of having the orchestra play in the second-floor hallway all started with a conversation.

“I was speaking with Mrs. Szeliga and she said ‘We’ve decorated the hallway every year and this year, it’s Nutcracker themed,’” music teacher and symphony orchestra director Mr. Nick Pignataro said.

The orchestra has been rehearsing to play the Nutcracker for their winter concert on December 19.

“I happened to say ‘Funny, we’re playing the Nutcracker’ and then, it was born. We should play ‘The Nutcracker’ in the Nutcracker,” Pignataro said. “The excitement was palpable, you could feel the energy in the room, that’s what performance is all about.”

The symphony orchestra moved their rehearsal to the second floor hallway on Monday, December 11 for a performance of several songs from “The Nutcracker,” as well as some melodies from “The Sound of Music.”

Although the space was cramped and very warm, the holiday spirit was festive as the musicians performed. English teacher Mr. Robert Zakrzewski dressed up in a gingerbread man costume to wave, clap, and pose for the performance.

Senior Sara Ventriglia, who plays the cello in the orchestra, was excited about the hallway performance.

“I enjoyed that everyone could come, a lot of people don’t even know there’s an orchestra,” she said. “It was nice that people came, who wouldn’t normally come to see us play.”

Paul and Stadnicki hope to top this year’s festive holiday decorations in the future.

“Get excited for next year,” Paul and Stadnicki said.

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Matthew Ramirez '26
Matthew Ramirez '26, Social Media Editor
Matthew Ramirez is a sophomore and a member of the Haven Yearbook. Matthew enjoys photography, art, and listening to music.
Callie Susek '24
Callie Susek '24, Reporter
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