This year’s Harvestfest, the annual fall concert, dazzled audiences with North’s talented ensembles performing together for two consecutive nights.
Harvestfest I, which took place in the Performing Arts Center on Nov. 14 at 7 p.m., featured Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Tiger Bebop, and Jazz Ensemble I, directed by music teacher Richard Labedz, and Jubilee Singers, directed by music teacher Sheldon Reid.
After a brief introduction from music department head Todd Young, the show opened with a grand fanfare of “Kronos” from the Symphonic Band. The piece was inspired by the Greek deity of time, which was evident in the clock like ticking sounds from the percussion.
The Wind Ensemble joined with the band on stage to play a patriotic piece titled, “Americans We,” featuring Young as a guest conductor. The rendition of the march was very energetic, and was complete with cymbals and drum beats.
“People get to see a bunch of different groups coming together to create music and it’s a really awesome event where everyone can come and have a good time,” said sophomore Rebecca Graham, who plays clarinet in Wind Ensemble.
A highlight of the show was a song called “The Bonsai Tree.” Labedz described the piece as “very different from the traditional ones” the ensemble usually plays.
Graham said, “‘Bonsai Tree’ was such a unique song to play because it highlighted each individual section of the band—percussion at the beginning, flute and clarinet solos. I loved playing this because it highlighted my instrument and allowed my section to stand out.”
Junior Serena Jampel, who plays trumpet in Wind Ensemble, said that her favorite song to play was “Arabian Dances,” a quiet and suspenseful piece that built up to a crescendo near the end. It featured instruments such as wind chimes, the conga, and timpani, giving the song an exotic feel.
After Wind Ensemble, The Jubilee Singers went on stage and sang some selections from their current season, including gospel songs like “Psalm 23” and “Be Like Him.” The talented singers swayed along to the rhythm of songs, and each piece blended flawlessly into the next. The director, Reid, played the drums masterfully while conducting the choir.
Tiger Bebop, North’s jazz singers, started off their season with three classic blues songs: “All of Me,” “Autumn Leaves,” and “No More Blues.” Each song had a scat solo for a singer or a solo for the expert pianist, junior Myles Murphy.
Soloists junior Dagny Griggs and sophomore Julianna Walsh incorporated well placed high notes with vibrato, stunning the audience with their amazing voices. The entire group sang the upbeat pieces with remarkable energy.
Bebop performed a song called “Autumn Leaves,” which gave off a nostalgic autumn feeling as the different singers harmonized with each other. “It is a laid back, relaxing song that perfectly captures the essence of fall,” said senior Lucas Pratt, who is a tenor in Jubilee and Tiger Bebop.
“When we are finished and people applaud, it feels good for the whole group because it acknowledges all our hard work in rehearsals,” said sophomore Hadley Iselin, who is a soprano, “It’s really cool to look back at everyone and see them smiling.”
Jazz Ensemble I closed the show with four beautiful renditions of classic jazz songs.
“I most enjoy the collaborative environment that comes from ensemble groups onstage. We don’t sing or play individually, but rather as one cohesive unit and that’s what makes the performance,” said senior Andrew Bean, who performed a solo in “Bye Bye Blackbird.”
The second to last song of the show was a piece called “Isfahan.” All the students were charismatic, which could be seen from the ease with which they played and how they moved along to the music. The song is named after a city in Iran and is a fusion of Western and Eastern sounds. The piece especially featured the alto saxophone.
“Harvestfest was a success because it allowed all the music groups to have a performance experience for the first time, which is important for newer members,” said Pratt, “In addition, this performance will hopefully bring more audience members to future concerts.”
Harvest II took place in the Performing Arts Center on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m., and featured Vocal Ensemble, Concert Choir, Family Singers, and Orchestra. All of the groups were conducted by music teacher Adam Grossman.
Vocal Ensemble started off the show with some classic songs including one composed by two members of the Beatles called “If I Fell,” a slow and sentimental love ballad. Although the song was set in a minor key, it was soothing as the singers’ voices blended together.
“It’s truly a beautiful song,” said freshman Ava Carino, who is a soprano in Vocal Ensemble. “The way each part harmonized gave me chills. Every time I would perform this, it just gave me a boatload of confidence in my voice.”
The performance was a great way for new members to feel more comfortable on the stage. According to Carino, being on stage during Harvestfest made her feel more confident and allowed her to “just get lost in the music.”
After an astounding performance from Vocal Ensemble, Concert Choir sang a few songs, including “By the Waters of Babylon.” The song, which has been covered by famous singers such as Don McLean and Boney M., was hauntingly beautiful as the singers harmonized.
A favorite was “Dreams,” a song sung in rounds with a graceful tone. The choir sounded angelic as they sung about holding on to one’s dream. The different harmonies overlapped and reverberated throughout the auditorium, sending chills through the room.
Family Singers sang four songs, two of which were tributes to Leonard Bernstein. The high notes were hit with a well-practiced precision by the members.
Because of the frequent practice sessions, the singers were very charismatic and comfortable on the stage. According to Bean, who also is a tenor in Family Singers, “Getting ready to perform was certainly not easy, but it wasn’t incredibly difficult either. It was really about consistent practice, good sectional work, and learning and memorizing the pieces.”
Because of the continual rehearsals four times a week, Family Singers were able to give an inspiring performance of the classical hymns, including “Warm-Up,” a piece used to get choir members ready for a mass.
“It is a simple but interesting round with nonsensical lyrics, but when we put it all together it has such a fun sound,” said Bean. The song was sung in a round and was accentuated with rhythmic claps from the singers.
Orchestra played two pieces before being joined by the Family Singers to perform a rendition of a classic by Mozart, “Veni Sancte Spiritus.” The voices of the singers resonated around the room as the hymn was played expertly by the orchestra.
To close this year’s Harvestfest, Wind Ensemble and Orchestra came together for a tribute to Leonard Bernstein with some selections from West Side Story. They were very fast paced and featured a lot of percussion, and it was very impressive to see the groups play together on stage. The Orchestra and Wind Ensemble’s sounds blended seamlessly together, and it sounded as if they were one group. The pieces evoked a sense of nostalgia for the famous 60’s film, and was a sweet finale for the concert.
“I love that music is really another language, a form of communication, and singing or playing is a way to let audiences and musicians connect,” said Bean. His statement couldn’t be more true. Thunderous applause filled the auditorium after the final performance of Harvestfest.
The festive mood was also evident after the show, when all the audience members congregated in the Theatre entrance to congratulate the performers and socialize.
Overall, this year’s Harvestfest was a hit with audience and performers alike. “I think the ensembles have a great season ahead of them because of the success of Harvestfest.” said Pratt.