Beginning Ensembles Take the Stage
by Israel Gomez
The night of Jan. 18 was a special night for many parents and new student musicians. The spotlight was solely on the members of beginning strings, band, and choir. For many families, it was a chance to see how far their child has come along since picking up an instrument, in most cases for the first time, at the beginning of the school year.
To kick off the concert, the beginning strings orchestra, led by conductor Mr. Leo Park, Music Department, took the stage. The auditorium was filled with parents and siblings in awe, and held above almost everyone’s head was a phone recording this milestone in their child’s music career. Beginning strings opened with a lively piece titled “Main Street March.” The piece was an opportunity for the orchestra to display a wonderful control of dynamics, as they handled each rise and fall in volume with grace. The next piece, “Scaling Mount Pizzicato,” was a fun piece showcasing the orchestra’s pizzicato skills, otherwise known as plucking the strings with their fingers. This pizzicato style was also featured in their next piece, “Russian Music Box.” The violins and cellos particularly stood out in this piece, as they took turns rising above the rest of the orchestra. The beginning strings wrapped up their performance with “Dance in D.” As everyone’s bows bounced off their strings for the final note, nearly every parent rose to their feet in celebration of the young musicians’ performance. The ensemble took a bow and exited the stage with the applause echoing behind them; there’s no doubt each musician felt the wonderful thrill of having their dedication pay off.
Following the orchestra, beginning band, led by conductor Mr. Michael Lill, Music Department, marched onto the stage with shiny brass instruments in hand. Their first piece “Montego Bay,” began with an upbeat intro courtesy of the percussion, and the band maintained an upbeat rhythm throughout. “Regal March” and “March Across The Seas,” had a similar effect, and if one listened closely, they could hear the tapping of many feet amongst the audience. The following piece, “Banana Boat Song,” had a dreamy vibe and broke away from the marching-style of the previous pieces. However, the next piece “G-Force Five” returned to the fast-paced tempo audience members can’t help but imagine marching to. To close their performance, the beginning band compounded that aggressive tone and left the audience with “Furioso,” a piece that lives up to its title. The piece opened with a powerful burst of energy from the entire ensemble, then gradually built up in intensity throughout the rest of the piece, finally ending with a clash of brass, percussion, and woodwind instruments. It was a great note to end their performance on, and the audience roared with applause as beginning band took a bow.
The final pieces of the night were delivered courtesy of beginning choir, led by conductor Mrs. Nythia Martinez, Music Department, and featuring Ms. Amy Wurtz, Vice President of New Music Chicago, accompanying on the piano. Their performance kicked off with “Kol Haneshama,” a Hebrew song where the ensemble’s lovely vocals were occasionally accented with rapid, rhythmic claps. Following this piece was “Aura Lee,” which only featured the men of the choir. The piece slowed things down with its romantic tone, and allowed the men to showcase their gentle side. The next piece, “Angels We Have Heard On High,” was a better-late-than-never Christmas carol. As Mrs. Martinez explained, the choir had been preparing this piece for a Christmas performance, but regardless of the timing, this angelic piece put the audience in a jolly mood. The final pieces, “I Dream a World” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” left the audience in a peaceful mood. As “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” came to an end and the choir took a bow, the audience rose to their feet one last time and applauded the progress of the ensemble.
After an hour and a half the concert came to an end, no doubt leaving some parents with tears welled up in their eyes seeing how far their child had progressed in just a few months. Soon, the auditorium emptied out and everyone poured into the halls outside. Parents hugged musicians and musicians hugged each other; it was a memorable night for all.