Small Ensembles: Standards and Experiments


A show with a solid foundation of standards punctuated by experimentation and nerves, the Small Ensembles concert is always a good time. With a New Orleans-style parade to start the show, new Senior School band teacher Gordon Clements and his Swing Band energized St. Mary’s church from the first (dissonant) notes of a song he wrote called “Boogaloo Blues”. The rhythm section handled Swing Band classics Besame Mucho and Caravan before closing with Mercer Ellington’s “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be”.

Peter Butterfield had a few tricks up his sleeve as well in the form of his choir Collegium Musicum. What’s Collegium Musicum? I had to look it up too. Wikipedia says it was one of several types of musical societies that arose in German and German-Swiss towns during the Reformation and thrived into the mid-18th century. Along with a Tim Rice tune and an Argentinian carol, Grade 11 student Airlia Hie guest conducted an arrangement of “Danny Boy”. Clement Zheng followed with a fresh, soulful solo on Chinese flute in the song “Air on the G String”.

In a nod to the television show Glee, the Vocal Jazz ensemble put new spins on some classics. The part that was most enjoyable about this section of the show was the enthusiasm of the singers; it was quite evident that they enjoy the music.

The Jazz band closed the show with tunes by Issac Hayes (“Shaft”), Johnny Mercer (“Autumn Leaves”), Herbie Hancock (“Watermelon Man”) and Stevie Wonder (“Sir Duke”).

Congratulations to Donna, Peter and Gordon on a successful evening. As always, these shows don’t run by themselves and the music department deeply appreciates the assistance of staff members who feed the students, strike the stage and generally smooth out the rough edges.

You can see almost 150 pictures from the show in the SMUS photo gallery and the recording is on SMUSTube. We have archived Small Ensembles shows past (all the way back to 2007) and many other SMUS concerts, so take a look at our Fine Arts playlist if you’re interested in seeing more.


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