Winter Concert Delights Families, Community Members

Claire Kenny, Features and Entertainment Editor

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It is the moment the HMHS choristers, band members, and string instrumentalists have all been preparing for. There is an excited bustle in the choir room, where a crowd of students shifts around in black robes. Many huddle in groups, laughing and chattering, the girls occasionally touching up their hair and makeup. T Mills’ smiling face bobs this way and that above the flock of black-robed choristers. He is busy joking with them, trying to excite them to the point that they will smile onstage. In the band room, more students mill around nervously. The sound of the trumpet soars over the murmur of voices. A marimba bellows beneath the chaos. In just one minute, the concert will begin.

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen,” says T Mills to the audience. “I would like to begin by telling you a little about our program ….” Black folders in hand, the choristers march quietly up the stairway onto the stage. As T Mills rambles on to save time, they gather on the risers and slowly fill up the empty slots. “And without further ado….” A few last shifts, then a bit of nervous fidgeting. “The HMHS Concert Choir!” There is a booming applause, and the singers beam into the audience.

The evening begins with “Gloria”, a stately, Baroque piece. This is followed by a more modern song, “Jingle Bells Variations”. The students had spent long hours in dress rehearsal preparing this particular piece. Full of complicated rhythms and capricious melodies, it requires hard focus. But when they sing it before the audience, there is a new air of excitement in the room. T Mills waves his lanky arms enthusiastically to Shannon Lally’s high-pitched, operatic solo. The other students smile proudly on the risers. They are all enjoying the mock-classical, Caribbean, and jazz twists to this traditional song.

Next, Chamber Choir jumbles things up with a lively Spanish piece, “Ya Viene La Vieja” (roughly translating to “here comes the old woman”). Then, they lull the audience to sleep with ‘Welsh Lullaby”, a melodic, peaceful song.

To conclude the choral section of the concert, the Madrigals sing one of T Mills’ favorites: “Fum Fum Fantasy”. For those who are unfamiliar with the Madrigals, they are a renaissance choir that sings holiday carols. They are particularly famous for their dessert theaters at Grace Church, where they sing for the audience as they dine. At most of their events, the Madrigals dress in traditional renaissance clothes. Girls wear richly-colored, flamboyant dresses, often accompanied by veils, while the boys dress in distinguished vests and feather caps. At this concert, however, they wear only simple black robes.

Now, it is time for the Orchestra to perform. The sound of the audience quiets as Ms. Thompson begins her introductory speech. She is the new orchestra teacher at HMHS, and has left her job playing as a string instrumentalist to teach students how to play. With pride, she tells the audience how hard the students had worked. They met for rehearsals twice a week at 7:15 AM, while also rehearsing three days a week during Orchestra class. These efforts, of course, lead to an excellent performance. First, they play “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, the wonderful holiday classic. Next, they mix it up with the jazzy “Charlie Brown Christmas”, capturing the audience with some impressive syncopated rhythms. At the end, there is another booming applause.

The band is the final performance of the night. Mr. Janney hobbles up to the microphone to give a brief introduction. When finished, he takes his place on the conductor’s pedestal, raises his arms, and prompts the first note of “A Fresh Aire Christmas”. The brass instruments glisten under the stage lights. From the audience, you can see golden trumpets, black and silver clarinets, French horns, saxophones, piccolos, and enormous drums. The deep, bellowing timbre of the alto saxophone sounds beneath the high-pitched tweet of the flutes, as the song flows into the farthest corners of the auditorium. People in the audience sit back relaxed in their seats. They are enjoying the beautiful music and admiring the band’s talent.

It is the end of the Winter Concert. Student musicians trickle into the audience from backstage, searching for their relatives and friends. Many of their faces have turned red from the hot stage lights. They have an excited glow to their complexions as they nod and chat with people in the audience. Some are given flowers, while others receive hugs and kisses. “I am so proud of you!” cries one old woman as she gives her grandchild a sticky smooch on the cheek. The student smiles, knowing that it would not be a true concert without grandma’s lipstick on his skin. For most musical kids, this affection at concerts is an ordinary ritual. Besides, the purpose of the Winter Concert is to share music with friends and family, so of course, it is meant to make grandmothers very happy.

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Winter Concert Delights Families, Community Members