Upper school music groups celebrate end of semester with annual winter concert

Senior+violin+soloist+Hanoom+Lee+leads+the+orchestra+in+Pablo+de+Sarasate%27s+%E2%80%9CZigeunerweisen%22+during+the+annual+winter+concert+last+Friday.+The+upper+school+orchestra+was+joined+by+the+upper+school+jazz+and+lab+bands%2C+with+all+three+groups+performing+pieces+from+their+repertoires.

Sriya Batchu

Senior violin soloist Hanoom Lee leads the orchestra in Pablo de Sarasate's “Zigeunerweisen" during the annual winter concert last Friday. The upper school orchestra was joined by the upper school jazz and lab bands, with all three groups performing pieces from their repertoires.

by Sarah Mohammed and Saurav Tewari

The upper school orchestra, jazz band and lab band performed in their annual winter concert on Friday in the Rothschild Performing Arts Center, commemorating their work this semester.

The orchestra played a variety of specially picked pieces, including George Gershwin’s “American in Paris Suite,” which is a jazz-influenced piece inspired by Gershwin’s time in Paris; Pablo de Sarasate’s “Zigeunerweisen,” which is a virtuosic violin solo piece based on Roman themes; Franz Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony,” which is an incomplete symphony with only two movements written, composed around the time Schubert was diagnosed with syphilis; and Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Bacchanale,” which is a drunken celebration dance from the opera “Samson and Delilah.”

“This is the only concert all year that features our two jazz ensembles and the Harker Orchestra. The variety of ensembles allows the listener to enjoy diverse repertoire,” Dr. David Hart, the conductor for jazz band and orchestra, said.

This winter concert was the first major concert of the season, but it was a daunting task to play new pieces. Many required students to learn new instruments while staying in harmony.

“It was hard at the beginning of the year because a lot of us started learning different instruments, but Mr. Taniguchi and Dr. Hart have helped us become comfortable with the switch,” Amrita Pasupathy (9), who is a trumpet in the lab band, said.

The repeated practice throughout class and after school paid off, as all three groups looked forward to showcasing their talents on this set of repertoire. They even invited several guests to assess and help improve their music.

“We have worked intensely on our repertoire under Dr. Hart’s lead and also had workshops with several guest artists, such as David Amram, the Bohemian Trio, and other musicians, which were all very rewarding experiences,” Sophia Horng (11), who is the concertmaster of the orchestra, said.

Dr. Hart emphasized that each orchestra player goes to great lengths to improve their music. Even the most advanced members found a way to challenge themselves, with the Sarasate featuring senior violin soloist Hanoom Lee.

“In many ways the preparation never stops. The learning never stops. We are constantly trying to make this music come alive and deeply learn about these great works of art. To me, the Winter Concert is a moment to share music that highlights all the wonderful learning that has taken place during the first semester,” Dr. Hart said.

Sriya Batchu
Saxophonist Camilla Lindh (10) plays with lab band during last Friday’s winter concert. Lab band, conducted by Naoki Taniguchi, opened the concert with four pieces from their repertoire, which they’ve been working on over the past semester.

The annual concert has changed slightly compared to previous years in terms of venue and groups that were performing, but students have embraced the change because they are excited to continue sharing music with the people they love.

“Before, the winter concert was a combined effort of both the middle school bands as well as the upper school. Although this isn’t the case this year, the winter concert is a great way for all the musicians to get together and provides us with the opportunity to showcase what we’ve been working for the first major of the concert of the year,” Jia Parikh (9), who is a double bass in lab band, said.

For students who have performed in the winter concert before, the annual performance is loaded with meaning and nostalgia.

“The winter concert represents the orchestra’s first official concert of the season, and it’s always inspiring to experience the orchestra’s development from a newly formed group at the beginning of a season to an ensemble that has learned to listen and play with each other in harmony,” Sophia said.

Ultimately, the winter concert represents a glistening opportunity to share music with the Harker community.

“There are so many amazing musicians at Harker and this is an opportunity for them to share their talents with family, friends, and the Harker community,” Dr. Hart said.