Winter Concert’s variety outperforms organizational issues

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BENJAMIN TYTELL/SAGAMORE STAFF

The Camerata Choir added a lot of movement and energy to their songs, making their performance a joy to watch.

Every orchestra, band and chorus in the school performed in the Winter Concert on Dec. 17, which, as Orchestra Director Nina Bishop told the audience, was the first of its kind since 2019. But calling this the “Winter Concert” may be a bit misleading, though; it was three concerts in one: orchestra, band and chorus.

To make the event more COVID-19 safe, the concert was split into three sections that were (in theory) staggered as to not interfere with one another and Brookline FoPA requested that concert attendees watch “only the portion of the concert that their performer is in.” However, having seen them all anyway I can say that with a diverse song selection interspersed with some holiday fun, this Winter Concert was more than worth the two-year wait.

The first on stage were the orchestras, starting with the Concert Orchestra’s debut performance. The group’s primarily string and wind ensemble (with an unfortunate lack of violas) filled out their songs incredibly well.

After their set, the Advanced Chamber Orchestra joined them onstage as Ms. Bishop announced that the next song, “I Will Survive,” represented the orchestra’s experience in the past two years. While a bit cheesy and cliché, I was blown away by the vigor of the piece: the song’s disco drum beat was carried by a powerful string melody and harmony and bolstered by a stellar wind backing. The echoing of its dramatic rushes of notes followed by tantalizing vibratos made it my favorite piece of the entire night.

Then, after donning Santa hats (and, in senior Ellie Hyde’s case, a full reindeer onesie), the Advanced Chamber Orchestra took the stage and played the first “Sleigh Ride” of the night. Complete with jingle bells and horse-like clopping noises, the song was quite a fun ride in and of itself, no snow required.

The dynamic background color of the Robert-Dubbs Auditorium stage and the coordinated attires of the performers made the concert visually interesting as well. (BENJAMIN TYTELL/SAGAMORE STAFF)

The String Orchestra performed an incredibly unique range of pieces. From the luxurious legato of “Impromptu” to the sharp staccato of “Psycho” and ending with the warm “Auld Lang Syne,” it was hard for the ear to find something to be bored about.

After the spectacular synchronization of beat and bow came to an end, it was time to go downstairs to the cleared-out commons area to hear the band’s part of the concert… only to hear the full bravado of “James Bond.” I soon discovered that I had already missed half of the Concert Band’s performance.

It is certainly a good idea to limit the number of people in one space at one time, but because performing arts events inevitably run over time, the concerts ultimately overlapped with one another. If one were to watch all of them for, say, the purposes of a review, they would miss some of the other performances.

In addition to the “James Bond” music, the Concert Band’s other highlight was a medley of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” music that more than did Danny Elfman’s score justice. The arrangement was like a “best hits” of the entire movie that managed to blend quick and wild tracks like “What’s This?” with slower and more intense ones like “Sally’s Lament.” It really compiled the best parts of an already-strong soundtrack.

Adding onto the mixture of different band instruments, the song’s percussion accompaniment was just as zany and mysterious as the rest of the music: the song had xylophone-sounding dings and a cartoonish whizzing that, through the impeccable delivery by the Concert Band, sounded just at home. This was simply a (Halloween and Christmas) treat to listen to.

The Concert Band’s music filled its commons area stage with vibrant music regardless of any logistical challenges. (BENJAMIN TYTELL/SAGAMORE STAFF)

The Music Collective wrapped up the band portion of the concert with a triple entente of smooth, slow, jazzy beats that felt like the pinnacle of café music. Their first song was the Brazilian “Corcovado,” with vocals in both English and Portuguese by senior Lilia Burtonpatel and a stylish saxophone solo by senior Jack Broomhead. “Sea Journey,” arranged by senior Jia Yi Guo, felt like a 20th-century siren’s song with Burtonpatel’s vocals again, calling the audience to relax and enjoy the musical ride.

Back upstairs to the Robert-Dubbs auditorium, the Camerata Choir walked up the risers for the show’s final segment. Their myriad of voices in unison took control of the auditorium and delivered harmony after harmony clear as a calm winter’s day.

The highlight of their performance was the second “Sleigh Ride” of the night. What particularly enthralled me about this performance, though, was less the singing itself and more all of the fun extra details that showed how much fun everyone was having with the song.

In addition to senior William Yoon’s piano, juniors Charlie Perdue and Leander Gosling’s authentic jingle bells and thunderous woodblocks, respectively, added significantly to the entertainment of the accompaniment. Additionally, senior Helen Ives started dancing and waving around a holly wreath that she pulled seemingly out of nowhere which was an incredibly charming sight to behold.

A trap many concerts fall into, especially around wintertime, is monotony: most people can only take so much classical music, and holiday music is nice, but it can get old quickly. However, because of the incredible variety of songs and pieces the ensembles performed, I was never bored and I was always excited to see what would happen next. And while the organization was a bit of a fixer-upper, I was ultimately able to let it go and enjoy some excellent live music for the first time in forever.