A hush fell over the audience as the NNHS music department head Todd Young took the stage to give an opening introduction in the auditorium. The musicians occupied the two front rows, dressed in black and white, giddily awaiting their time to shine.
The first part of the annual Winterfest concert took place in the auditorium on Wednesday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. Those performing included the the North Symphonic Band, the F.A. Day Band, the Bigelow Symphonic Band, and the North Wind Ensemble.
After the introduction from Young, North’s Symphonic Band, opened the show with an upbeat and lively song, “Jungle Dance,” by Brian Balmages, and conducted by music teacher Richard Labedz. The piece started with clarinets, and other brass and woodwind instruments joined in one by one, building up volume, pace, and intensity. The percussion included maracas, clapping from both the audience and the band members, and a xylophone, which contributed to the desired effect of being in a foreign, exotic region.
“We are a pretty tight group,” said freshman Sara Wang, a flutist in the Symphonic Band. “The performances were great, and I had a lot of fun.”
The Bigelow Symphonic Band took the stage, and the middle schoolers played two pieces. “The Great Locomotive Chase” by Robert W. Smith, conducted by music teacher Cara Bergantino, was particularly memorable due to the unusual sound. The piece gave the impression that one was part of a frenzied pursuit with the quick transitions from one instrument to the next. It often featured trumpets and saxophones.
Next, the F.A Day Band played three pieces. Surya Gopal, an eighth grader and a percussionist in the F.A Day Band, said, “It was cool to play music that we had been working hard on, and it was really inspiring to watch the high school band, because that’s where I’ll be next year.”
Gopal’s favorite piece that the Day band performed was “Roman Festival Overture,” by John Edmondson and directed by Troy “Shon” Brown, a music teacher at Day. The piece featured fanfare-like tunes by trumpets all throughout the song. At the end of the song, a clash of cymbals and thunderous applause filled the room, making for a grand finish.
The Newton North Wind Ensemble, conducted by Labedz, performed next. They opened with “Rhosymedre,” a song that Labedz said was his personal favorite. The talented high schoolers played the song with a confident sound. It was a very emotional, moving piece due to the harmonies between the different instruments. The Wind Ensemble followed with “Instant Concert,” by Harold L. Walters, an incredible, three minute long melange of different popular pieces from the last 100 years, called “Instant Concert” by Harold L. Walters, and many of the pieces featured were familiar to audience members.
For the finale, the NNHS Wind Ensemble and the Symphonic Band combined to play “Our Director,” conducted by Young and composed by F. E Bigelow, Young’s great grand uncle. It ended the show with a lively tune.
“It seemed that people enjoyed the opportunity to work together, and I hope it was meaningful for the eighth graders to work with the older, more experienced students,” said Young.
Winterfest was a good way to introduce the middle school musicians to the musical opportunities that Newton North provides. Overall, it was clear that the audience enjoyed itself, and so did the musicians on stage.