Concert Shows Students' Growth

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The busy spring concert season that kicked off last month with the Cross-Campus Choral concert hit a crescendo this Wednesday with the annual Cross-Campus Band Concert.

A collaborative effort between Middle School and Senior School band teachers Ian Farish and John Reid, Wednesday’s concert gave us a glimpse of band teaching technique and showcased the breathtaking progress our band students make from the first day they pick up an instrument to the day they graduate.

The concert kicked off in regal fashion with the Brass Ensemble performing Jeremiah Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary.” The Grade 8 Concert Band sustained the sense of drama with “The Phantom of the Opera” followed by the theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The poise and precision of the Grade 10 Concert Band wowed the audience, particularly with the haunting melody of the “Legend of Danny Boy,” which was conducted by Grade 10 student Brandon Chow.

Ian Farish and his Grade 6 students led us through a number he called “A Year in Review.” Presented in chapters, Farish had his young charges recreate their year of learning new instruments from the first note through beginner band classics and ending with a short reprise of the Middle School Band Concert that took place 10 days ago. From there, the Grade 6 students were joined by guest musicians Nick LaRiviere and Chris Fenje (Grade 8) to perform an improvisational jazz number, “Green Onions.”

Mr. Farish’s former students, now the Grade 9 Concert Band under John Reid, were next up with two challenging and intricate pieces, “Idependentia” and “Bravura” followed by the lighter “Jamaican Farewell.” The Grade 7/8 Band, which included a mix of skill levels, acquitted themselves with aplomb on the Largo and Finale of Dvorak’s New World Symphony and then sustained their energy through “Three Czech Folk Songs.”

The Senior Concert Band gave a strong lead-up to the finale with Ed Huckeby’s “By the Rivers of Babylon” followed by the lulling and melodic “Shenandoah.” The set ended on a note of comedy with “Irish Washerwoman” featuring mystery guests “Tweedle Dum” and “Tweedle Dee,” who bore a passing resemblance to teachers Kevin Cook and Pete MacLeod.

The much-anticipated highlight of each Cross-Campus Band Concert is the massed bands finale and with 110 students on stage and another 160 in the choir lofts, Mr. Farish surveyed the scene with obvious delight before launching into John Kinyon’s “Royal March”. The magnificent sound of 270 SMUS band students representing a range of ages and skills was a powerful end to a wonderful evening.

More photos from the concert are available in the photo gallery. Up next is Jazz Night this Monday, May 25th, in the SMUS gymnasium, which will be followed by the Senior Choral Concert on June 5th.

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