Review: First Light


The Camerata group gathered in a performance for the annual First Light in Coolidge Corner.

Taeyeon Kim, Staff Writer

The cold night in Coolidge Corner was filled with the glow of shops and fairy lights, bustling activity and the sounds of harmonious music and laughter. It was officially First Light.

First Light is a 20-year-old annual event held in Brookline to encourage people to shop locally and support the small businesses. They hold sales, offer samples and have entertainers or exhibitions to encourage shopping. There is always a meticulously organized series of performances.

This year’s celebration in Coolidge Corner was held on Thursday night. It was especially focused on performances, all by local groups such as the PB&J and Small Feets Dance companies, the Senior Center Chorus, BHS Camerata, BHS Acapella groups, Voices Boston, the Coolidge Corner Community Chorus and a string quartet from the Brookline Symphony. There was also a lot of support for the arts, with the Brookline Arts Center at Brookline Bank, various face-painters, balloon artists, cake-decorators and exhibitions of artists’ work.

One of the more striking performances was the second part of the Camerata set. Crowded on the narrow stairway of the Arcade, the talented chorus wore crisp shirts, festive sweaters and clean black pants or skirts. They sang versions of holiday classics, such as Sleigh Ride, Mary’s Little Boy Child, Deck the Halls and Carol of the Bells, along with Hanukkah songs. A crowd favorite was the last song, the famous Carol of the Bells. They sang solid and dark harmonies and highlighted the voices of the sopranos and the basses.

An ambitious dance performance by members of the PB&J and Small Feets Dance companies in the cramped alleyway next to Party Favors also gathered a fascinated crowd. All the dancers were involved in the creative process of choreographing, which was an experiment with space and hula-hoops. The dancers were dressed in sweatshirts and pants of various bright colors. The music was a strange, trance-like electronic mix of mysterious sounds, and the dance reflected that. From slow, flexible movements with the arm and body, to rolling on the ground and popular tricks with hula-hoops, everything in the dance had a tranquil aura.

For the kids, Magic Beans hosted a performance by local children’s star Vanessa Trien. Her audience clearly showed her popularity—the crowd was overflowing out the door. According to some parents, and the reactions of the kids, she is somewhat of a rockstar for younger kids in lower grades; she had the whole crowd smiling and singing along enthusiastically with her acoustic guitar and fun songs.

A standout performance later in the night was the performance of the high school a Capella groups near the Mariott. The groups drew a large crowd of high school students and adults and was popular for a performance that was not initially listed on the schedule. The Testastatones were the first of the two groups to perform. They had talented and confident soloists. What made the performance of this group unique was the set list; they focused on pop songs, differing from the more festive song choices of the various choral groups. In the song “Stay,” originally by Zedd and Alessia Cara, senior Noah Sesling had a striking solo, confidently belting out the lyrics while the rest of the group imitated the electronic chords of the instrumental in the original song. In the following song, “In Case You Didn’t Know” by Brett Young, junior Diego Echeverria de Cordova jumped into the center of the circle, playfully grooving along to his solo.

The end of the night featured the calming sounds of Mozart from the Brookline Symphony string quartet and people walking home while chattering and smiling. Overall, the performances and exhibitions were impressive and were a great way to bring the community together for a night of celebrating both local small businesses and the arts.