Review: Harvestfest showcases students' talent

The Newtonite

Sophomores Molly Dalzell and Irene Golden play "Shiny Stockings" by Frank Foster in Jazz Ensemble.
[media-credit id=35 align=”alignright” width=”300″] Sophomores Molly Dalzell and Irene Golden play “Shiny Stockings” by Frank Foster in Jazz Ensemble.
by Leah Budson
Harvestfest, one of this school’s three seasonal concerts, brought together vocal and instrumental ensembles for diverse and exciting pieces, ranging from traditional to contemporary.
Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m., eight of this school’s ensembles performed in the auditorium for their first official concert of the year. In both Harvestfest I and Harvestfest II, audiences were treated to a spectrum of pieces, which conveyed powerful emotions.

Harvestfest I

The night began with Jazz Ensemble’s first-ever performance at a Harvestfest. The ensemble started the night strong with “Shiny Stockings” by Frank Foster. The piece was upbeat and traditional, filing the auditorium with cheer and excitement for the numbers to come.
Jazz Ensemble’s second piece displayed the group’s versatility with the slow and lyrical “Isfahan” by Billy Strayhorn. The number featured the smooth, melancholy notes of senior Emma Walter on saxophone throughout the piece.
Jubilee Singers, the next group to perform, began with what director Sheldon Reid called the group’s “unofficial theme song.” The song, “Jubilee” by Reid and Jason Alexander Hinez, described the chorus as a family and left the audience with the uplifting message: “We can change the world/We can change it together.”

Junior Aija Freeman sings powerfully with the Jubilee singers.
[media-credit id=35 align=”alignright” width=”193″] Junior Aija Freeman sings powerfully with the Jubilee singers.
Junior Aajia Freeman’s solo in the a cappella “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around” by Alexi Paraschos ’04 was the most moving performance of the night. Both the chorus and Freeman overflowed with emotion as they sang of the power of perseverance.
The Symphonic Band’s opening piece, “Encanto” by Robert W. Smith, was also incredibly powerful. At different points in the number, the ensemble quieted until only a low drumbeat remained. Then, different instruments joined gradually until the music of the entire band rang throughout the auditorium, giving the audience a sense of anticipation and excitement.
Berklee student Kevin Farrell, a student teacher, conducted “Chasing the Storm” by Billy Madison, the band’s last piece. The upbeat piece painted a picture reflecting its title, as if it were the soundtrack of a movie where the characters were running towards danger.
The concert ended dramatically with Wind Ensemble’s rendition of “Mekong” by Robert W. Smith. Seniors Bella Rao and Katie Wu introduced the piece, explaining that Smith based the piece on the American involvement in the Vietnam War. According to Rao and Wu, the audience is intended to imagine a Vietnamese child playing the flute, interrupted by the sound of helicopters and gunshots.
The piece began in complete silence with the ensemble silhouetted against a blood red background. Some musicians walked slowly throughout the auditorium turning rainsticks and ocean drums. A spotlight was cast on junior Ned Martenis as he began to play the piccolo. Soon, the sound of helicopters interrupted his melancholy tune. The number continued to escalate until it finished as it began with the wistful song of a flute, the sound of rain sticks and an eerie silence.

Harvestfest II

Harvestfest II began with Tiger BeBop’s rendition of “The Nearness Of You,” words by Ned Washington and music by Hoagy Carmichael in the choir’s first performance at a Harvestfest. In the piece, the group’s sweet voices overlapped beautifully in the slow love song.
With its second piece, “He Beeped When He Shoulda Bopped” by John “Dizzy” Gillespie, the group showed its festive side. The piece was light and playful, featuring scatting by four of the students.
One of the Orchestra’s pieces, “Andante Cantabile” by P. I. Tchaikovsky, was reminiscent of the pleasant, slow notes of “The Nearness Of You,” exploring the musicians’ graceful lyricism.
“Presto from Sinfonia No. 3” by Franz Beck, the Orchestra’s last piece, had an upbeat rhythm that spread excitement throughout the audience, offsetting the slow melodies of “Andante Cantabile.”
Concert Choir’s first piece also encouraged excitement. In the song “Come Sing This Round With Me” by Padre Martini the chorus sang in round with a bouncing tune that likely lingered in the audience’s heads.
The group also sang a beautiful rendition of “I Will” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The singers’ brought the bittersweet emotion of the song’s lyrics to life with moving accuracy.
After Concert Choir, Family Singers took the stage with “Fa Una Canzone” by Orazio Vecchi. The singers’ beautiful and crisp voices sang the lyrics with such ease that it sounded as if the choir’s first language was Italian, its multilingual fluency also exhibited in their performance of the German “Lobet den Herrn alle Heiden” by G. P. Telemann.
Concert Choir joined Family Singers for the last song of the concert, “Psalm 150” by Lewandowski. Parts of the choir sang crisp staccato notes in the singing of “hal-le-lu-jah,” overlapping neatly with smooth melodies, the song ending powerfully with a full, rich note.
The students’ expertise and their ability to convey the emotion of the songs were impressive in both Harvestfest I and II. With such a wonderful first concert of the year, students can only look forward to hearing more as the year goes on.