Review: Winterfest presents skilled musicians performing upbeat, chilling pieces


Photo by Robin Donohoe.

The Newtonite

Photo by Robin Donohoe.
Photo by Robin Donohoe.

Musicians performed Winterfest I and II Wednesday and yesterday in the auditorium. This year, the concert included the talented Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Flute and Clarinet Choir, Family Singers, Concert Choir, and the Orchestra.

Winterfest I

by Maya Abou-Rizk

Winterfest I, a perfectly balanced performance of both elegant and upbeat music, included the Symphonic Band, Chamber Ensembles, and Flute and Clarinet Choir.

The Symphonic Band, directed by music teacher Richard Labedz, amazed the audience opening the night with “Electricity,” by Daniel Bukvich.

The piece began with one instrument, gradually adding on a new sound until all the musicians on stage were playing. Halfway through the piece, the lights came down and the audience was left in a pitch-black auditorium, staring onto a black stage. The musicians kept playing; their volume and tempo carefully matched the mood of the thunderstorm they were portraying. Three flashing lights could be seen from the audience as three musicians walked around the stage holding small strobe lights. The music slowed, quieted, and the lights went up at the end of the piece.

See a clip of the performance here: IMG_2203

The Saxophone Ensemble, directed by Labedz, was the second of the Chamber Ensembles (small groups of musicians who played the same kind of instruments) to go on stage. Their last song, “The Entertainer,” by Scott Joplin and arranged by James “Red” McLeod, is an elegant and smooth rendition of the popular song. The eight musicians were able to provide an upbeat and quite “entertaining” piece that ended with a roar of applause.

The Flute Choir, directed by Mana Washio, played “From the Sea,” by Yoko Nakatani. This was a commissioned piece for the Flute Choir as part of the Radlo Resident Artist Fund. The piece started with long, slow notes that all five flutists play in unison. The piece was kept very soft and smooth, but sped up halfway to a more “wavy” sound.

The Percussion Ensemble, the last to play of the Chamber Ensembles, directed by Andre Sonner, performed “Four Four Four for Four…(for Seven) plus One,” by Anthony J. Cirone. The group started the piece abruptly, which startled the audience. The musicians had an immediately captivating rhythm that steadied and sped up periodically. The piece was also loud, energizing, and included a long rest halfway through the piece that kept the audience on their toes.

To finish the night, the Honors Wind Ensemble, directed by Labedz, played the “First Suite” in E-Flat, by Gustav Holst.

Overall, the performance was both relaxing, entertaining, and left the audience completely satisfied, as shown by their roar of applause.

Winterfest II

by Jessica Tharaud

Winterfest II, also known as the Ray Smith Memorial Concert in honor of the Family Singers founder, showcased a haunting piece called “Gloria,” composed by Antonio Vivaldi.

The groups included the Orchestra and the Family Singers, both directed by music teacher Adam Grossman, and the Concert Choir, directed by fine and performing arts department head Todd Young.

Photo by Robin Donohoe.
Photo by Robin Donohoe.

The concert opened with the String Ensemble, a small group of violinists, cellists, and violinists, playing “Serenade for Strings,” composed by Edward Elgar. The first movement, “Allegro Piacevole,” was a lighthearted piece that brought out the skill of the musicians with its dynamics. It continued into the much slower “Larghetto,” which seemed to hold out each note for the exact amount of time to experience the full effect. The third and final movement, “Allegretto,” for the first time made use of the contrast between the deep vibrating tones of the cellos and the higher-pitched violins and violas.

The String Ensemble continued with the works “Prelude and Fugue” composed by Vittorio Giannini and “Mock Morris” composed by Percy Grainger. The group showed its versatility by playing both sad, emotional music and fast-paced, staccato music.

Then, the entire group of performers joined onstage to present “Gloria.” Notably, the Family Singers wore long emerald green dresses or black suits and the Concert Choir dressed in white collared shirts and black pants and skirts.

The mixture of different musical groups combined to create a show full of haunting voices and unified musicians that energized the crowd after the purely instrumental numbers. In the first movement, the group involved every member for a delightful “Gloria in Excelsis.” In the following movements, the music focused more on the deeper male voices.

Seniors Lucy Aiken, Sarah Riley, and Juliet Roll, and junior Aiden O’Neal, members of Family Singers, stepped forward in the third movement to lead “Laudamus Te.” Their spectacular voices made this piece a highlight of the performance.

For the penultimate piece, senior Maddy Waters displayed her impressive vocals when she stepped forward for her solo. Her charming voice carried well across the auditorium as she sang a complicated part.

The performance came to a close as the groups united cohesively to create a finale to remember.