Large Ensembles: The Diversity of Music

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It was an exciting kick-off to the 2014 music season this week, as Band Director Gordon Clements made his debut on the Farquhar stage. As he introduced his first band, he noted that the Grade 9 ensembles consisted of students who were new to band when they arrived in September as well as students who had graduated from the SMUS Middle School program. He also thanked his predecessor, Mr. John Reid, who was in the audience, for all the excellent work he had done with the students.

After the Grade 9 band kicked things off with “Chariots of Fire” and “Antigua Bay”, the Grade 10 band performed two interesting numbers. “Canto” featuring some in unison clapping as instrumentals and “Pirates of the Caribbean” showcased some great percussion from the timpani.

The Senior Concert Band challenged themselves with two out of their three pieces being music originally composed for strings. Even Mr. Snowden remarked he was surprised to see “Bolero” on the band part of the program, but the musicians did a spectacular job with a piece that would be part of the repertoire for professional orchestras. Another standout was the “Scherzo” by Beethoven, which had a beautiful and delicate opening.

It was Peter Butterfield and his choral students up next, beginning their set with a piece familiar to many, “A Whole New World” from the classic Disney film Aladdin. It wasn’t the only pop culture offering, as the students had hoped to perform the musical Chicago with SMUS. With Spamalot selected, they decided to perform “I Move On” from the motion picture version of Chicago.

The choir was joined by a handful of strings players for “Ave Verum” by Mozart and they wrapped up their set with a medley from an old SMUS musical, West Side Story.

The finale of the night was left to the strings musicians. First the strings orchestra played “Sinfonia No. 5” and then “Alice in Wonderland” (as composed by Danny Elfman for Tim Burton’s film). To finish off the evening, the full orchestra took to the stage and played the exciting “Firebird Suite” – a piece written to accompany the rise of a Phoenix in the Stravinsky ballet – which created a beautiful effect as the strings players had their bows high in the air. Another final piece of pop culture music ended the night, one Donna Williams said she chose to commemorate the release of the new Hobbit movies: the symphonic suite from Lord of the Rings, featuring a small vocal solo from Dylan Tong.

The Senior Concert Band plays Scherzo by Ludwig Van Beethoven. Arranged by Jay Bocook.

The Full Orchestra plays the Symphonic Suite from “The Lord of the Rings” by Howard Shore. Arranged by John Whitney

The full concert is here

Want more from Large Ensembles? Check out our photo gallery for pictures from this week’s concert or watch “The Best of Glee” from last year’s concert.

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