Winter concerts Light up the season

Band

On Dec. 2, the NPHS gym held the anticipated return of the band department’s lively winter concert. The production featured the school’s wind ensemble and jazz band, who played a selection of both traditional and seasonal songs.

For students, this was their first concert in nearly two years, bringing a mix of stress and excitement. Alek Fodor, senior and trombone player for the jazz band, realizes it will take some time to get back into the groove of putting on a show. “It’s the first year after COVID. So, there’s that sense of everyone getting back in the feel of it. So yeah, it’s gonna take some getting used to,” Fodor said.

Zoey Blair, sophomore, a clarinet player in the concert band, is ecstatic to return to playing music for an audience. “Doing Zoom for band was very difficult as we couldn’t even play together because of lagging and stuff… So it’s been a great opportunity for everyone to get together and make music finally,” Blair said.

The pressure of putting on a great performance was coming from more than just the students. Dennis Crystal, the head of the band department, provided some insight as to what made the preparation for the winter concert so demanding. “Four weeks ago [we were] doing football games, and that’s a whole different set of music to prepare. And so while we’re doing that, we’ve also got to start preparing music for this concert… It’s pretty nerve wracking every year,” Crystal said. Crystal emphasized the difficulty of practicing and perfecting the nine songs played in the concert. “There’s a lot of pieces that all have to come together at the same time.”

Now, the band students are settling back into routine. Everyone involved in the concert, from the jazz band to the wind ensemble, was proud of their hard work and grateful to have put on a successful event. “This was the first concert as a band. We’ve been back together and that’s clear. That’s a really good experience. It’s great to be back,” Fodor said.

Orchestra

After a long wait, the NPHS orchestras finally returned to the stage of the PAC on Dec. 7 for their biggest concert of the year: the winter concert. The night was filled with performances of beautiful holiday music from our three orchestras, Beginning Strings, String Orchestra, Concert Chamber Orchestra.

Tina Huang, the NPHS orchestra director, has been planning and preparing the students for this concert since mid-October and was grateful for the opportunity for her students to finally perform live again. “There’s that sense that [the students] treasure [playing and performing] a lot more and they understand why they do what they do, and there’s a certain kind of affirmation,” Huang explained. “I think with the concerts that we’ve had this year, that was really exemplified and people are, you know, just generally really appreciative…[to be able] to showcase all that they worked on. Students always want to have some sort of applause or recognition, and that’s exactly what they were able to have at the concert.”

Casey O’Brien, senior and violinist, took on an important role as first chair and concert-master of the Concert Chamber Orchestra. “It was really cool to have the opportunity to kind of lead the section,” O’Brien said. “But, being able to perform with people again…it was really fun just playing, on-stage, in the PAC again.”

Shriya Rajesh, sophomore and viola player, was excited for her first in-person orchestra performance in high school. In addition to playing in the concert, Rajesh also sang in the Intermediate String Orchestra’s performance of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” alongside three others. “I was really nervous about it, but it turned out pretty well…I’m glad I did it,” Rajesh said. She hopes to see more students join what she dubbed the “whole family” of orchestra.

Huang reflects on the night with praise and thanks. “Everyone pulled through and worked super hard in all of the three levels that we have here, and I believe it was well-received. We had a packed house and especially some of the Chamber Orchestra pieces were a hit with the audience- the students banded together,” Huang said. “It was just an amazing experience, for the students, the parents, and just everybody that attended the concert.”

For those that missed the orchestra program’s winter concert, you can look forward to their spring concert set for late May, for which the students have already begun preparation.

Dance

For the first time since 2019, the NPHS Dance Department continued their usual annual tradition of their Winter Dance Concert. The dance team lit up the Performing Arts Center stage and blew the audience away with a variety of shows varying from Dec. 9-11.

A unique part about this concert is the differentiating levels of skill, age, and experience seen throughout all the diverse groups that performed. The Winter Dance Concert featured the varied dance physical education courses offered at NPHS; beginner dance, intermediate dance, and IB dance, as well as a hip hop club made by students on campus. There were also some guest acts from local dance studios and other dance teams that gave the audience a different taste of performances they were not expecting.

The NPHS Dance Team was one of the concert’s biggest features, in which they performed numerous large group dances, several solos, a duo, and a few small groups all of which varied from different styles. As many of their performances were choreographed for their upcoming competition season and or used from football season half times, they felt very prepared as they have been practicing these dances for months.

As this was her last Winter Dance Concert, Vanessa DaKroob, senior, is excited that she had the opportunity to show off all that she has worked towards leading up to her senior year in IB Dance. “Well [the concert] is really fun, it’s so sad that it’s my last year but it’s really awesome that we get to do it in the PAC [Performing Arts Center] and not on the field,” DaKroob said.

Despite practicing for months, they faced their share of challenges as dancers became injured throughout the season leading to restage a lot of the dances. Sydney Farina, sophomore, is a dedicated member of the dance team who personally overcame this challenge. “One of the girls on the dance team got taken out of a dance because she was hurt and I filled in for her and so that made me nervous because I wanted to do her part justice,” Farina said.

Having the unique opportunity to perform for family and friends is something special that Drew Caswell, junior, is thankful for. “I think [having this opportunity] is great because I feel like everyone is like ‘oh yeah Drew’s a dancer,’ but to show them I’m a good dancer is really cool,” Caswell said.

While seniors are saddened that this was their final Winter Dance Concert, they were excited to have spent their moments on the performing arts stage, with an audience filled with their biggest supporters. “As it’s my last year, it’s cool that it’s kind of normal because COVID kind of took that away from a lot of other seniors,” DaKroob said.

Choir

The NPHS choir had their Winter Concert on Dec. 16-17, this year. Prior to the fall concert, students had been working hard in preparation to be able to perform at their best.

Karli Bartlett, sophomore, is in an Advanced Women’s Ensemble, and was very excited to perform in the Winter Concert. “We started practicing right after our fall concert due to the short amount of time to learn our songs,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett attributed the choir’s success to their strong preparation. “I don’t think anything could improve it more except for maybe more time, because you can never have too much time when it comes to practicing,” Bartlett said.

Julia Pendleton, sophomore, had a lot of fun in the fall concert and hopes to recreate that excitement during the Winter Concert. “Our choir is very encouraging and we all cheered each other on, which had a great effect on the overall attitude in the theater,” Pendleton said.

During preparation for this concert, Pendleton enjoyed multiple opportunities being able to perform new and exciting pieces. “My favorite part about rehearsing is hearing it all come together and finally getting songs that we have been struggling with,” Pendleton said.

Ayla Mikes, sophomore, has had a lot of fun preparing for the concert with the rest of the choir. “Practicing can be hard sometimes, but Mr. Sargent gives us technically difficult songs to learn so there is always a lot of repetition which can be tiring,” Mikes said.

Once rehearsal is done and it is time to perform, Mikes enjoys being able to hear the audience congratulate them. “My favorite part is listening to the finished product. When we all learn the song and our roles throughout, it always sounds amazing,” Mikes said. “being on stage and showcasing our finished product to the people that become like your second family.”

Tamryn Dawson, senior, has been in choir for twelve years and is especially excited for this Winter Concert. “I do have a solo in one of the songs and I also have a quartet that I’m doing with my friends…so I’m really excited for tonight,” Dawson said.

During the Winter Concert, the choir is able to share their gifts with the audience through holiday traditions and classing winter songs. “Well, we have a lot of traditional Christmas pieces, especially in chamber, like Carol of the Bells and Silver Bells, which we usually do every year as well as sleigh ride,” Dawson said.

Bartlett is most excited for being able to learn and adjust to new songs. “When you add in a new song it is refreshing because it gives you a new thing to think about and it makes the other song not so boring anymore,” Bartlett said.

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