Band & Orchestra Ends the Semester with a Lively Holiday Concert

Musician from the Philharmonic orchestra giving a short speech in the middle of the song.

By Jessica Palmer, Staff Writer

The lights start dimming and the auditorium starts to quiet down, which can only mean one thing: the concert is about to begin.

The jazz band opened up the concert with “Shiny Stockings,” playing right in front of the stage in the pit. I was sitting next to my friend and we both looked at each other in surprise not expecting them to play like that. I have not been to the school’s concert before, so this was an amazing way to start the experience. Senior Socrates Hwang had a solo feature in the middle of the song that he played exceptionally well and the audience cheered when he finished.

The Symphony Band then made their way to the stage and started setting up. Transitions were quick and holiday music played, making it seem like no time has passed. Bryan Polacek introduced himself as the guest conductor for the band portion of the concert because new band director Liam Jackson was unable to attend. The Symphony Band played “Snowfall” and “Pitch Black” — a nice variety of tunes. Next up was the wind ensemble, a smaller group, playing the fun holiday songs “Under a Winter Sky” and “Midnight Sleighride.” It was interesting to see the different percussions used, as they changed and added to the theme of the songs.

To finish off the band portion of the concert, the Saxophone Quartet was set up in the pit. The musicians started themselves and swayed to the songs they were playing: “Deck the Halls” and “Christmas Jazz Medley.” Even though there were only four of them, their sounds filled the auditorium. Since they were standing, they swayed with the music, making it even more enjoyable.

The next section of the concert was the three different orchestras: Concert, Philharmonic and Symphony. Orchestra director Natalie Frakes introduced each section as they came on the stage and played. Before the Symphony Orchestra started playing, Frakes brought the audience’s attention to a projector screen. She showed a video of orchestra members saying holiday greetings in a language that represents their ethnicity. It was pleasant to see, especially when I heard a greeting in my ethnic language. Each orchestra played a mixture of holiday music, some with their own twists. During one song, a student and Frakes spoke, and in another Frakes encouraged the audience to clap along.

To finish off the concert, the full orchestra came to the stage, the Symphony orchestra and the Wind Ensemble. They collaborated and played “Sleighride,” a popular holiday song with an entertaining percussion feature. The slapstick, infamous for making other schools’ performances of the song go viral on the internet, was played by senior Alex Lu.

The concert was exciting and made time pass by quicker than it seemed. Lasting about an hour and a half, I was not expecting it to be as late as it was when I checked the time in the end. It brought the whole audience into a festive mood from the music played to the lively hats and accessories the musicians wore.