Review: All-Town Orchestra Concert



John Ferguson conducts the combined orchestras for “Stoptime Rag” by Scott Joplin.

The white shirts worn by the middle school students contrasted against the black clothing that the high schoolers dressed in. With violins tucked away in rest position, they all sat side by side and tapped their shoes against the stage floor in excitement. The unified rumble slowly crescendoed and became increasingly more insistent until it ceased suddenly, signaling the concert’s commencement.

The All-Town Orchestra concert that took place on Monday, March 26 was a collaborative concert between the Brookline Town-Wide Orchestra, Brookline Youth Orchestra and the high school’s orchestra. Middle school students from the Town-Wide and Youth orchestras were joined by students from the high school to play pieces together. The show also featured the refined expertise of the high school’s Advanced Chamber Orchestra, which performed separately.

The All-Town Orchestra concert was an enjoyable show with a dynamic variety of songs that were ordered in a compelling way. I also left feeling like it was the perfect length: long enough to feel substantial, but short enough to maintain interest throughout.

Moving up to the high school can be absolutely terrifying. The intimate collaboration that this concert promoted allowed middle schoolers to feel more comfortable, while high schoolers took the opportunity to act as guiding figures.

The Town-Wide Orchestra gives middle school orchestra members the chance to experience playing in an orchestra.

Following the combined Town-Wide and high school orchestra’s smooth, elegant collaboration on “Pas de deux” from The Nutcracker written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, conductor Jorge Soto introduced the Advanced Chamber Orchestra, which serves as the apex of orchestral study at the high school.

They opened with a traditional Chinese melody called “Butterfly Lovers,” which also incorporated woodwind instruments. The song opened with a soft, hushed tremolo and light pizzicato that sounded similar to birds chirping. It blossomed into a carefree, flowing song, and the rich sound pranced into the audience like a spring wind. The bows crisply moved up and down, barely grazing the string at times. The story of the Butterfly Lovers is a tragically beautiful love story that involves a love that will never be satisfied, a death from grief and a suicide. It culminated with the spirits of the two lovers rising from their graves as butterflies that fly away and elope together. It is also a story of unity and togetherness.

The Advanced Chamber Orchestra progressed onwards to “Adiós Nonino,” a fiery tango piece composed by Argentinian mastermind Astor Piazolla. “Adiós Nonino” was written a few days after Piazolla’s father, Vicente “Nonino” Piazolla, had died. A strong, dramatic burst of frustration opened the piece, and then it softened into a tragic melody. The cello and second violins provided a steady, constant rhythm as the first violins glided on over top. While conducting, Soto moved like a passionate Latin dancer. Afterwards, there was a return to the intense beginning, which tapered off into a whimsical ending with delightfully accented pizzicato.

Jorge Soto conducts the Advanced Chamber Orchestra in an Argentine tango, “Adiós Nonino.”

After individual performances by the Brookline Youth Orchestra, they were joined by high school students to play “Stoptime Rag” by Scott Joplin. “Stop time” is an accompaniment pattern than features strong accents coupled with quick, staccato rests. The massive number of students on stage created a vibrant, vivacious sound. Some students tapped their feet to keep up with the brisk pace, while others darted their eyes quickly between conductor John Ferguson and their music. “Stoptime Rag” was a bright, funky and playful song with the excitement of a Tom and Jerry chase scene. Soto was bouncing around joyfully to the tune, and many had grins on their faces.

Throughout all the performances, the students and conductors did a good job bringing every song to life. Additionally, many proud parents and family members contributed to the enthusiastic, prideful environment.

Students at the high school embraced the incoming middle schoolers with open arms, and the two orchestras meshed beautifully together. The smiles that students of all grade levels shared were heartwarming, and it reminded us all of the importance of working with others to foster supportive relationships.