January 9, 2022
Silence fills the room as the conductor raises his baton. Hundreds of people anticipate the first note as he queues the opening of Karel Butz’s “The Mighty Columbia”. Suddenly, notes soar through the concert hall filling the room with song.
Atholton’s annual winter concert was held on the 8th of December. It featured the Concert, Chamber, and Full Orchestras, all led by James Woomert. After intermission, Eric Posner led the Wind Ensemble.
Ian Martinson, the second chair violin in the Chamber Orchestra, commented on the variety of the pieces, noting, “Our pieces were the most diverse of the ensembles, and our execution was pretty great too,” Ian explained “Our bit was the best it was since before COVID, in my opinion.”
The COVID 19 outbreak took a large toll on the Atholton music department. Despite this they did their best to fundraise and continue to keep students engaged in music in asynchronous learning. Following quarantine and the mask mandate, the music groups have come a long way from having musical masks and social distancing in the classroom; they now play openly as a class again. It took a while to get the classroom to feel normal again, and the musical arts classes did a great job. This was especially shown in the most recent concert.
Posner and Woomert definitely challenged their students with the concert music, but this didn’t stop them from a great performance. “The orchestra seemed pretty well prepared. Everything they played sounded like it was straight out of a movie score.” said Wind Ensemble percussionist Dustin Flaker. Performing in the opening half of the concert, the orchestras had lots of weight on their shoulders to start the concert off smoothly.
The Orchestra implemented a solo piece and a duet into the very beginning of the concert. The duet featured Ian Martinson and Eulalia Voo, the first and second chair violinists. The experienced musicians performed the first movement of Bach’s Double Violin Concerto in D Minor and set the expectation for the rest of the concert.
After the duet was a solo performed by Marley Ball on the piano. She perfectly expressed “A River Flows in You” by Yurima. This beautiful piece allowed a pleasant transition into the Concert Orchestra’s performance.
Second to perform was the Concert Orchestra. They performed three pieces, one of them featuring two soloists. They opened with “The Mighty Columbia” by Butz, then transitioned to “The Old Boatman”, featuring Ron Neal and Bobby Shearer. The concert orchestra finally finished with “Allegro from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5”, arranged by Hoffman. Woomert noted that, “I believe that the music at the winter concert presented areas of growth for each student in at least one area of potential challenge.” Woomert believes that all his students have room for growth, especially the newer players.
Woomert then allowed the musicians in the Chamber Orchestra to set up before finally queuing their first song, Russian and Ludmilla Overture. Then they finished off with Fantasia on ‘Greensleeves”. Woomert noted that, “One of the beautiful things about music and being a musician is that our work is never done.”He said that he thought all performances were filled with energy.
After this, Woomert announces the Full Orchestra, which was a mix of his Chamber Orchestra and volunteer members from Wind Ensemble. They performed a piece by Jean Sibelius called “Finlandia”. The whole song was prepared in only four rehearsals after school, testing the ability of the orchestra. The Chamber Orchestra and Full Orchestra had an exceptional performance and created a smooth entrance into intermission.
After everyone got their snacks and merchandise, the Wind Ensemble performed last with three prepared pieces. Posner decided on a march, a slow piece, and a festive piece. The march, “Free Lance” by Sousa, was fast paced and implemented many different styles into one piece, and the slow piece, “Reminiscence” by Salfelder, challenged the band members tone and musical skills. According to Mr. Posner, the piece was a lot harder than it looks. Lastly, the festive piece, “Sleigh Ride” by Anderson, everyone knows this Christmas classic. In “Sleigh Ride”, the slapstick is the iconic instrument played at the end of various build ups.The percussionist playing it filled the room with laughter as he jumped at his slapstick cues.
Overall, the winter concert was a success. Posner and Woomert are excited to prepare for the next one and parents and friends are anticipating the upcoming performances. The groups intend on continuing to put out great music for everyone to enjoy.