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Holiday concert brings glad tidings home

Concert Band, Advanced Jazz Band, Intermediate String Orchestra, Symphonic Orchestra, Wind Ensemble and a special harp ensemble performed at their annual “Home for the Holidays” Christmas Concert Thursday, Dec. 6 in the Performing Arts Center.

They played traditional winter pieces such as a medley from “All I Want from Christmas is You,” the tune “Home for the Holidays,” “Jingle Bells,” “The Carol of the Bells,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “The Nutcracker” and “White Christmas.”

“My favorite song is [the] arrangement of ‘Jingle Bells’ [because] there’s a neat sax feature in there that really [impresses] you,” tenor saxophonist and bassoonist sophomore Nathan Chen said. “It’s interesting: taking one form of art and turning it into a different form. The artists take familiar tunes and make it their own, incorporating traditional jazz into songs like ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘White Christmas.’”

Members of band and orchestra were able to coordinate with each other and adapt to different playing styles. The ensembles learned various techniques such as synchronization and dynamics, showcasing them to family and friends during the concert.

“It’s just a different feeling when you actually play for someone else instead of in class, [and] there’s a stage presence,” violinist junior Kimberley Fan said. “There’s lights on you, there’s microphones on you [and] people are looking at you. So there’s more [tension] but, at the same time, excitement.”

The performance featured different genres, including classical and pop music. While orchestra focused on the slow style of traditional compositions, jazz band launched into upbeat contemporary songs.   

“With it being my last [Home for the Holidays] concert, there’s a sense that I’m going to miss this,” trumpeter senior Mia Bravo said. “Everyone’s more in that Christmas spirit, so it’s easier for [members] to reach out, connect more and appreciate each other.”

For the orchestra ensemble, percussionists made specific sound accompaniments. For example, slap sticks, jingle bells and temple blocks were used in “Sleigh Ride” to add sounds that resemble whips, bells and horse clops, respectively.

“It’s a relaxing concert [because] it’s nice to [represent being] home for the holidays, making music that people recognize,” Chen said. “The purpose is to reconnect families because it’s Christmas. The name of the show suggests everyone is coming from their jobs, and they all come home.

Soloists performed throughout the concert, including alto saxophonist senior Matthew Go, trumpeter junior William Go, trumpeter junior Lina Hua, tenor saxophonist senior Erik Ingram, saxophonist senior Ashdon Lutran, oboist senior Amber Shamaan and guitarist senior Patrick Webb.

“I get anxiety when I’m playing in front of people, but then it was not that bad. Every time I did the solo by myself, I gained more confidence,” Shamaan said. “It was pretty relaxed. [The band members] weren’t stressed because we practiced a lot. They weren’t nervous playing in front of their friends or family.”

To prepare, the organizations practiced during their respective periods and attended after-school rehearsals. With the help of directors Corey Wicks and Katie Takahashi, each organization refined specific aspects such as rhythm, pitch and tune. Over the year, the application SmartMusic also provided opportunities for members to practice their accuracy and tempo.

“[There is] a certain energy when people play together, [and] you feel that rush of excitement,” Fan said. “Even though orchestra and band have different music, we harmonized with each other and complemented each other.”

By Landon Park, Staff writer
Photo by Natasha Amanda