Winter Concert Part 1: Band

On January 5, Ward Melville held its Winter Concert for the band. How did it go?

Darren Tung, News Team

I could use many words to describe the Band Concert (Winter Concert I) last Thursday. I’m proud to say that a majority of these words are positive. Winter Concert I was a success for the bands, even though I have a few criticisms as a Wind Ensemble student myself.

Leading the program was Symphonic Band, consisting of juniors and seniors (with a few sophomores) that wished to continue the band, even though the prerequisite Concert Band in 10th grade would have fulfilled their requirements to graduate. After tuning, the first line I heard was a strong melody from the horns in Dig Down Deep, which was a very good way to open a concert. I sadly couldn’t get invested in the rest of the piece, however, but it does contrast greatly with the second piece: Into the Light, which provided a very serene and relaxing tune for about six minutes, if nothing more. They closed with Arabian Dances, a piece I actually played at SCMEA three years ago, and while I could nitpick here, I’m not going to, as I still think it’s a great closing song that captures the essence of Middle Eastern folk music.

Next was Jazz Ensemble II, made of students dedicated to jazz that did not get a spot in Jazz Ensemble III H. To my surprise, the members walked down the auditorium after a drum roll, got settled in about two minutes, and started playing their first piece: The Opener. It was definitely a very unique entrance, so kudos to the group for thinking of this. As for the piece itself, it was short and upbeat, making it the opener. Like Symphonic Band, the group later showed their talent for playing slow, relaxing jazz with Lil’ Darlin’, but it was a bit too drawn out for my liking. Jazz II closed with Snarky Puppy’s Shofukan, which was also a slow jazz piece, but it had several admirable soloists, and a consistent beat. I just think that it wasn’t really the best closer for the group, especially after it ended on a short note (literally).

Wind Ensemble was called back to the band room after Jazz II finished, so I wasn’t able to watch Concert Band until after the concert thanks to my mother’s recording. From a technical standpoint, this group of primarily sophomores is pretty solid, but from an entertainment standpoint, I just can’t get into the music. Kid Cam and Shifters both weren’t stimulating or memorable in any way, but that’s not any fault of the band. Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Wizards in Winter fared better in this regard, but it still paled in comparison to the original. This was personally the low point of the concert, but it’s not the band’s fault; just the composers’/arrangers’.

Wind Ensemble performed next. The group is made of talented band members who auditioned for a historically talented ensemble. I really like the music we worked on for the past four months: Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann was an impressive take on a classic tune, La Bohemé (A Symphonic Portrait) came out very nicely given that we had less than six weeks to work on it, and Strange Humors was a very catchy, unique, and strange piece of music. However, we failed to account for our size when playing the pieces. Since Wind Ensemble is a much smaller group than Symphonic Band or Concert Band, we produce less sound as a result, meaning that it was hard to hear some of the solos when I went over recordings from my mother, who was sitting in the back of the auditorium. Nevertheless, from the stage, Wind Ensemble’s performance was amazing.

The concert closed with Jazz Ensemble III, made up of only 20 people invested in jazz. Calling this group amazing would be an understatement. In fact, I almost don’t want to write about how impressive they are, as I want to show the recordings to everyone who wasn’t at the concert. The soloists in particular were so creative, and so exciting that the audience erupted in applause after each soloist played his part. I also cannot forget the pieces, ranging from the intriguing Groove Merchant to the semi-classical and rapid Hunting Wabbits to the just awesome Chinoiserie from Duke Ellington. It was an amazing end to a great concert overall. Let’s hope the same happens for the other Winter Concerts, and the Spring Concerts in late April.