Preview: Harvestfest provides diverse, exciting music

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[media-credit id=25 align="alignleft" width="207"] Freshmen Everett Gilpin and Phillip Barnett rehearse for Harvestfest during Symphonic Band F-block.

by Leah Budson

As the leaves fade from green to shades of red, auburn and gold, this school’s music ensembles can be heard practicing for their first concert of the year, Harvestfest.

Jubilee Singers, Jazz Ensemble, Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble will perform Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium for Harvestfest I. The next night, Concert Choir, Family Singers, Orchestra and Tiger BeBop will perform at 7 p.m. in the auditorium for Harvestfest II.

Harvestfest I

According to Jubilee Singers director Sheldon Reid, the group is deciding between the pieces “Total Praise” by Richard Smallwood, “Be Like Him” arranged by Kirk Franklin, “Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around” arranged by Alexi Paraschos ’04 and “Voices of Freedom” arranged by Reid.

Most of the pieces will be sung a cappella, according to Reid. “I really like them all,” he said.

In terms of choosing the pieces, “part of it has to do with what is ready, and we try to do a balanced set,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll talk to the other directors about what kind of pieces they’re doing, so we can try to balance each other out, but mostly we do what is ready and what the singers feel energized about.”

Richard Labedz, the director of Jazz Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble and Tiger BeBop, also said that balance was important when choosing pieces to play at Harvestfest.

“I always think about the audience. I want to present, within each group, a kind of set,” he said. “I like to provide a broad perspective whether it is a fun, lighter piece, a challenging, harder piece or a slow, lyrical piece.”

The Jazz Ensemble will show its range by going from a big-band, very traditional sounding piece, “Shiny Stockings” by Frank Foster, to “A Song for Horace” by Michael Philip Mossman, a modern Latin piece.

This will be Jazz Ensemble’s first performance at a Harvestfest, he said.

“Last year, I wanted to create a unity within the jazz programs, so we had two jazz nights,” said Labedz.

Tiger BeBop will also be performing for the first time at a Harvestfest. “This year, I really want to get the jazz program mixed in with all the other groups. I want to give other students a chance to hear some of the jazz groups.”

Symphonic Band transitions from fast and exciting to slow and lyrical within their first piece, “Encanto” by Robert W. Smith, according to Labedz. “This is one of those classic opener pieces,” he said.

The band will also perform “A Hymn for Band” by Hugh Stuart, which focuses on the students’ lyricism, tone quality, intonation and phrasing, according to Labedz.

Wind Ensemble will perform a three movement suite, similar to “Encanto” in its transition from upbeat to lyrical, which begins and ends in fast, march-like sections, and has a slow and lyrical section in the middle. The piece, “English Folk Suite” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, will feature a solo by senior Katie Wu on oboe.

Perhaps the most exciting song of the night will be “Mekong” by Robert W. Smith because of its novelty and theatricality. The song, named after a river that flows through the heart of Vietnam, is a tribute to the Vietnam War.

Although Wind Ensemble has not decided how theatrical they are planning to be, the performance will involve special effects and the playing of an electronic wind instrument called an Ewi, “a kind of novelty, especially for high school musicians,” said Labedz.

Harvestfest II

The night will open with pieces sung by Concert Choir, which is directed by fine and performing arts department head Todd Young.

The group will sing “Gaudeamus Hodie” by Natalie Sleeth, arranged by Carl Strommen, which is “a real festive, fast piece with the melody line running through all three parts.”

They will sing a total of five pieces, including “Ashokan Farewell” from the Ken Burns Civil War series and the popular “I Will” by the Beatles.

Family Singers will join Concert Choir for the piece “Psalm 150” by Lewandowski. According to Adam Grossman, the director of Family Singers, String Ensemble and Orchestra, “When Concert Choir and Family are combined, it is a much larger group, and it is nice to have a wide variety of ages and experience.”

“Psalm 150” is the audition piece for District Festival, an audition-only group, which a benefit to students wanting to audition.

Family Singers and String Ensemble will collaborate in “Lobet den Herrn Psalm 117” by Telemann, sung in German. They will also sing “Fa Una Canzone” by Orazio Vecchi in Italian and two American folk pieces, “At the River” and “Ching a Ring Chaw,” both by Aaron Copland.

Whereas Family Singers will sing in three different languages, the Orchestra will perform pieces in three different styles: classical, romantic and baroque, according to Grossman.

Opening with a classical piece, the Orchestra will perform the last movement of “Sinfonia in D minor” by Franz Beck, which is the longest and fastest piece the group is playing at Harvestfest.

“Andante Cantabile” by Tschaikowsky, the romantic piece, “has a very different kind of mood,” said Grossman. “It’s a slow, singing piece with lots of sustained, beautiful playing.”

The group will also perform the baroque overture to “Messiah” by Handel.

Harvestfest will close with Tiger BeBop, this school’s vocal jazz group.

One of the songs Tiger BeBop will sing is “He Beeped When He Shoulda Bopped” by Dizzy Gillespie, a jazz trumpet player who was one of the founders of BeBop, according to Labedz.

“I wasn’t even familiar with this piece until I saw it when I was looking through a catalog, and I thought this was really cool,” he said. “It’s a very fun, very light piece, which will feature scat solos from some members of the group.”

Complete with jazz groups, pieces in multiple languages and styles, theatrical pieces about the Vietnam War and collaboration between groups, Harvestfest I and II will provide unique and diverse music.

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