Five siblings share the stage at Penn Charter

It was a bittersweet performance for 11-year-old Alex Smith on Thursday night at William Penn Charter School in East Falls.

The 2011 Spring Ensemble concert marked the last time that the fifth grade alto singer would share the stage with his four brothers and sisters.

“My brother and I are the last in the family, this is our last time in a show with all five of us,” he said. “It’s sad, because I don’t want it to end.”

He and his twin brother, Sam, along with their sisters Zoe and Dylan will continue performing at the school next year as their oldest brother, Jake, heads to college.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“We all like music and singing. We are going to keep doing it and will still watch each other sing,” he said at the Kurtz Center on Thursday night.

Smith joined the entry level Chamber Singers chorus last year. He says the group taught him how to listen to others and work on his music skills as a beginner.

“I’m an alto singer and I’m good at that because my voice can’t go that high for soprano,” he said with confidence.

Debbie Kaesshaefer, Penn Charter music teacher, taught all of the Smith children. She says the Chamber Singers is a good place for musical kids to get their start.

“Students find within themselves the musician, the artist, the instrumentalists, and they really feel confident and grow and bring other kids along with them to grow,” she said.

Kaesshaefer touts the music program as an “infectious” part of the student curriculum, and the Spring Ensemble proves it.

The Spring Ensemble started out, almost a dozen years ago, as a collaborative cabaret night with the English, Theater and Music departments. It formerly included skits, songs and other kinds of performances, but somewhere along the way, it lost part of its organization. That’s when the music department took over and gave it a complete music makeover.

“As our music department began to grow, we thought we could really pull this off and to challenge our kids,” she said.

Smith plans to continue challenging himself in music and supporting his brothers and sisters as they perform through middle school and high school. 

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal