Holiday concerts spread cheer


Christmas Spirit! The ninth and eighth grade orchestra joined to play “Reindeer Galop”. On Dec. 11, the two orchestras played four songs and then combined with the wind instruments to play two more songs.

Zakary Hicks, Reporter

The orchestra, chorus and band have performed three separate holiday concerts.  The concert was on Nov. 30 featuring the vocal ensemble and varsity chorus, the band’s concert was on Dec.  4, featuring the jazz band and the orchestra concert was on Dec. 11, featuring the symphonic orchestra and the chamber orchestra.

Jessica Connell leads the chorus.  With a lot of songs to sing there is one that stood out and that was “Stars I Shall Find,” by Victor Johnson.

“It was challenging as far as the vocal range required for each part, the soprano lines split into two lines, the soprano one was really high, the harmonies were more challenging than you would normally find for a junior high level group, and the tempo was very slow, so it required a lot of control and breath support beyond what we would normally suspect junior high students to do,” Connell said.  

All concerts are big because they all have a lot of time and practice with them.

“The spring concert is the biggest because it is the last one of the year, and if you are in ninth grade it sucks because you don’t get to see Mrs. Connell anymore, and she is my favorite teacher,” ninth grader Aliyah Galbraith said.

Kelly Detwiler directs the orchestra and chamber orchestra.  In holiday concerts, not one instrument has the most complex part.

“The violins have high stuff, and they have melodies that are sometimes difficult.  The violas have their inside spots that can be really hard to hear and keep together.  The bass section with the low end is super important and has to be right there for everyone to be together.  You can’t pinpoint one instrument, and everyone has an equally important part like a big puzzle that has to be put together,”  Detwiler said.

The orchestra has a lot of diverse songs, including the song “Chanukah music for Strings.”

“My favorite song is ‘Chanukah Music for Strings’ because I am Jewish, and it is nice to have a representation of my religion,” Rachel Sheinberg said.  

Chamber orchestra branches off regular orchestra.  The chamber consists of the most qualified students from the regular orchestra combined.  

“I am in the chamber orchestra; I am the first chair for the violas.  In the chamber, we travel to different schools and put on concerts and also play for different gatherings,”  Sheinberg said.

Kent Martin directs the band.  He has been the band director for years and has gone through many winter concerts.

“There is still nervous excitement for every show, and I hope that never goes away!”  Martin said.

There were many songs, and they were all challenging. One song outweighed the others.

“A Big Band Christmas” was the hardest song because it was the longest.  I had two solos in the song, and it was hard to keep a nice sound throughout,”  Amiradama Smith-Banks said.

Martin even thought it was challenging.

The most challenging piece in the holiday concert is ‘Big Band Christmas.’ It is quite lengthy and technically demanding.  Also, since it is a medley, it has some tricky transitional parts,” Martin said.

One of the biggest parts of every concert, no matter what instrument family, is the preparation part.

“There are many things to consider when planning a concert: music choice, rehearsal schedule, program planning and printing, accommodating student attendance concerns and making sure the ensemble is at their performance peak for the show,”  Martin said.

Connell explained that there are a lot of things that happen in preparation for a concert that go unnoticed.

“Chorus class isn’t just practicing for the concert; it is also learning how to read music and to sight sing music which all helps to prepare us. Also, the week of the concert we have rehearsals after school to practice just the logistics of the concert: who stands where, how we move on and off the stage, fitting everyone up there, everyone knowing where to go.  There is a lot behind the scenes action that isn’t music related, but it goes into real production as well,” Connell said.

Zakary Hicks
The jazz band is playing their instruments loud and clear. On December 4, the jazz band was instructed by Kent Martin and played a variety of songs.