This year’s Class II Presentation featured something brand new: an original song, “The City Where Strangers Meet,” written by composer Anna Dagmar and conceived with creative input from Class II.
Class II students were asked to use their experience as New York residents and their knowledge of the city from their social studies curriculum to brainstorm song topics that would hold meaning for them. The girls contributed endless creative suggestions and, with the help of Ms. Dagmar, narrowed it down to just two possibilities: a song about the dogs and pets of NYC and one inspired by their trip on the Circle Line, which would include stories of families immigrating to New York via Ellis Island.
Ms. Dagmar returned to Nightingale a few weeks after her first meeting with rough ideas for both songs, and the girls were able to see the songwriting process in action. As the class naturally gravitated toward the song about Ellis Island, Ms. Dagmar asked them to choose four countries from which the families in the song would emigrate. The students drew on their personal heritage for inspiration, and the lyrics ultimately included stories of English, Italian, Indian, and Chinese immigrants.
On her final visit, Ms. Dagmar presented the completed song. She shared some traditional music from China and India and showed the girls how she used those sounds in the accompaniment to reflect the diverse cultures in the song. The girls asked Ms. Dagmar thoughtful questions about what it’s like to be a composer and learned that one of her favorite parts of her job is collaborating with students like those at Nightingale. Many thanks to Anna Dagmar for spending so much time in music class with Class II and for writing such a wonderful song for the girls to perform. Music teacher Mary Beth Alexander, Class II homeroom teachers Melissa Rice and Hai Dan Fan, and the entire second grade look forward to sharing “The City Where Strangers Meet,” along with poems and other songs, at this year’s Class II Presentation, entitled “Sights and Sounds of New York City,” on Tuesday, February 11.