For most, holiday music is the upbeat pop tunes on the radio, but for the orchestra, it’s the elaborate symphony of notes that declare the holidays. Conducted by orchestra teacher Teresa Gordon, the Winter Concert collaborated with the guitar students and their intermediate, advanced, and artist classes, led by guitar teacher Aaron Kunk. The artist orchestra played “Symphony No. 8 in G major, 4th Mvt. Antonin Dvorak,” arranged by Todd Parrish and “Ani Ma’Amin,” a traditional Jewish folk song arranged by Leavitt. Combining efforts, the artist and advanced orchestra played “Let it Snow,” arranged by Robert Longfield, “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and the classic Mariah Carey song, “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” arranged by Larry Moore. The finale was a magnificent collaboration of orchestra and guitar students performing “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” arranged by Bob Phillips. The concert featured soloists senior Austin Conaway on the first chair cello, freshman Hannah Adnan on the guitar, sophomore Diego Martinez on the drums, and senior Michael Duellman on the electric guitar.
At this year’s Winter Concert the orchestra brought old and new traditions to the stage. Each year the orchestra decorates their bows in the spirit of the holidays.
“I bring in ribbons and they can wrap their bows — it’s fun,” Gordon said.
Similar to previous years, Rock Ridge Performing Arts volunteers aided the orchestra with special effects such as lights and smoke, which added a dramatic flair to the ensemble. “Twas the Night Before Christmas” was read by Santa Claus, played by science teacher Everette Callaway, while the orchestra made background sounds mimicking the actions in the story.
“I have done it before in other schools, but that one is new,” Gordon said, “It’s fun to do sound effects; it’s kind of like being a pit orchestra.”
Sophomore Alexa Kim, who plays the cello in the advanced orchestra, said that her favorite piece of the night was “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”
“It’s one of those classic Christmas songs that everybody hears and loves to sing along with,” Kim said.
“I allowed the students to choose more music this time, so one of [the pieces] they really wanted to play was ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You,’” Gordon said.
The top hit song by Mariah Carey was the most popular Christmas song on billboards last year as well as in the orchestra.
For seniors, this concert was their last winter concert in their high school careers.
“This concert was special as it was my last Winter Concert of high school, and I had the honor of being the concertmaster,” senior Ethan Hackett said.
Hackett is the leader of the first violin section and is part of the artist orchestra class. His favorite song was “Ani Ma’Amin”.
“The current seniors in orchestra actually played [“Ani Ma’Amin”] in eighth grade, so I think it was a great way to come full circle,” Hackett said.
With precise playing and cheer, the orchestra celebrated the holiday season and the art of music at the annual Winter Concert.