Review: Talented ensembles perform Springfest

The Newtonite

by Peter Diamond
Closely following the vernal equinox, this school’s music ensembles performed Springfest I and II, which were held Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, at 7 p.m. in the auditorium.

Springfest I

Members of the Wind Ensemble rose to their feet as their conductor, music teacher Richard Labedz, entered the stage and took his place behind a podium.
Labedz conducted the group in the evening’s opening number, “March and Procession of Bacchus” by Leo Delibes. Strong percussion emphasized the march-like feel of the piece.
Symphonic Band, also conducted by Labedz, followed the Wind Ensemble with two contrasting but equally magnificent pieces.
“Pavane Op. 50” by Gabriel Faure, performed by Symphonic Band, had a sweet, slow melody. With this piece, the intricate musicianship of each band member shone.
Symphonic Band’s second piece, “Americans We” by Henry Fillmore, countered “Pavane Op. 50” with a patriotic, upbeat march reminiscent of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The contrasting nature of these two pieces proved Symphonic Band’s tremendous versatility.
Springfest I transitioned to vocal music as Concert Choir, conducted by fine and performing arts department head Todd Young, took the stage.
Young commented on the death of missing Boston College student Franco Garcia, who he described as “a recent North graduate and an able clarinetist.”
Concert Choir dedicated its first song, “Set Me As a Seal” by René Clausen, to Garcia. The soft pulchritude of the piece truly captured the sorrow of Garcia’s passing.
Concert Choir followed its sorrowful selection with two pop favorites, “If I Fell” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen.
Jubilee Singers ended the evening with great gusto, performing three pieces, including “Let Everything That Hath Breath” by Walt Whitman.
Preaching the Biblical quote “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord,” the gospel choir absolutely took the house down with powerful vocals and an optimistic message.

 Springfest II

Family Singers, an honors choir conducted by music teacher Adam Grossman, opened Springfest II by performing Felix Mendelssohn’s beautiful song with the less-than-beautiful title “Frühlingsahnung.”
Sopranos, altos, tenors and baritones all sang clearly and contributed to the harmonious melody.
String Ensemble joined Family Singers to sing “Regina Coeli” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Together, the two choirs demonstrated their ability to sing as articulately in Italian as they can in their own vernacular.
Then, String Ensemble, which is conducted by Grossman, commanded the stage alone, performing “Overture for Strings” by Gordon Jacob. This piece consisted of impressively sharp bow strokes and the use of plucking and strumming.
Afterward, the winners of this year’s Concerto Competition performed.
The Concerto Competition is an annual event in which four students are chosen to perform a solo with a music ensemble of their choice at Springfest. Seniors Laura Cooke, Joy Kang, Nellie Robinson and Emily Schacter won this year.
Robinson was first to perform. A violist, she presented “Allegro” by Franz Anton Hoffmeister alongside the Orchestra, conducted by Grossman. She led a formidable army of musicians in a seemingly effortless manner.
With the Orchestra, Kang, a violinist, performed “Allegro molto appassionato” by Mendelssohn. Kang’s passion was obvious as she thrusted her entire face and body into this concerto.
Schacter, a flautist, led the String Ensemble in “Night Soliloquy” by Kent Kennan. Carefully, her fingers flickered over the flute’s keys as she created a soft yet powerful melody.
Closing Springfest II, Cooke led the Orchestra in the cello concerto “Allegro” by Antonín Dvorák. Her instrument was a powerhouse as its music filled the auditorium with optimism and strength.
Each soloist stood to receive a bouquet from Young at the end of her concerto, a sweet way to end a magnificent concert series.