Winter Concert sings, strings and swings once again

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BENJAMIN TYTELL/SAGAMORE STAFF

The A Cappella Choir performs in the Robert-Dubbs Auditorium with matching shades and coordinated dance moves.

To hear the best of the high school’s musical performers, you may have to run up and down the STEM wing stairs a few times.

Eight high school music ensembles performed their best pieces and songs at the 2022 Winter Concert. Ranging from a Ukrainian folk song to a 16th century English love ballad to an arrangement of “Minecraft” music, the groups did not skimp on variety. The concert often echoed its predecessor from last year, but it never let that take away from the fun.

“The Winter Concert” is a bit of a misnomer, since there are really three smaller concerts that comprise it. The choruses, bands and orchestras all get their time to shine. Just like last year, these were physically separated such that the choruses and orchestras performed in the Robert-Dubbs Auditorium while the bands played in the STEM wing.

The first stand-out of the night was Concert Choir’s “Build Me Up Buttercup,” a personal favorite song of mine. The song was by far the group’s best song as it was the only one that really demonstrated their vocal range. Freshman William Xuan’s bittersweet piano perfectly accented their layered harmonies, building up a complex sound that captured my emotions just as much as the original Foundations recording from 1968.

Pulling out shades and charisma, “Uptown Funk” was undoubtedly the highlight of the A Cappella Choir’s performance. Arranged in part by sophomore Hannah Carrick, it was hard to discredit the group’s stage presence as they flashed their sunglasses with every “hot damn.” Unfortunately, the group’s skewed gender ratio held it back as the higher voices in the song overpowered the bass backing that made the original so catchy.

Camerata Choir pulls out their books and sings “Wiegenlied” by Gideon Klein.

Thankfully, this concert only had one “Sleigh Ride” instead of last year’s duo. Concert Choir, A Cappella Choir and Camerata Choir shared the stage to sing the festive classic, bringing with them senior Charlie Perdue’s jingle bells and senior Leander Goessling’s wood blocks. As much as I would love to nitpick repetition, it’s hard to complain about hearing such a fun song from such talented performers.

Moving downstairs to a crowded overflow, every chair was filled, every ledge had people sitting on it, every railing was adorned with leaning listeners and STILL the crowd of people at the back was several layers deep. Luckily, the music was well worth packing in for.

The Concert Band’s first piece—which wasn’t even on the program—was my favorite performance of the entire night by far: “Mr. Blue Sky.” It takes an incredible performance to take a song you know and make you love it even more, and that is exactly what Concert Band did. I wish that every time I played this song I could relive sitting next to the cold window, hearing all the percussion, brass and woodwind instruments filling up the space with powerful melodies and harmonies.

Back upstairs, the orchestras gave it their all with a variety of genres and styles including a full three-part symphony (String Orchestra’s “Symphony No. 1 in G Major, Op. 11” by Joseph Bologne) and that “Minecraft” piece I alluded to earlier (Concert Orchestra’s “Mice on Venus”).

String Orchestra’s final piece was my favorite of theirs: the famous tango “Por Una Cabeza” by Carlos Gardel. What makes this piece such a delight to listen to is the story it tells. It shifts back and forth between wistful ambience and intense, passionate longing. The only thing it was missing was some actual tango dancing, but given the four or five distinct pleas for the audience to donate to Brookline FoPA over the course of the night I’m guessing that was outside their budget.

Finishing off the concert strong, the Advanced Chamber Orchestra (ACO) played fast and loose with two fast-paced forties pieces: “Hoe-Down” and “Fiddle Faddle.” The two pieces preserved the energy in the room with precise fiddling (and faddling), the performers’ bows in lockstep up until they took the final bow of the night.

Freshman Fumiko Kato plays a solo on the violin in “Adoration,” one of many standout freshman performers of the night.

Officially starting at 7:30 p.m., the final performance didn’t end until almost 10, giving the show a run time of nearly two and a half hours. Granted, the marathon-length was certainly better than the alternative, as unlike last year it was possible to hear every performance.

The Winter Concert was an insightful glimpse into both the best of the high school’s performers and the future of the performing arts department. I’m sure this year’s buttercup builders and “Minecraft” maestros will have no trouble taking the reins and giving next year’s audience the best “Sleigh Ride” of their lives.