The school’s award winning orchestra had their annual holiday concert on Dec. 1, 2016. Each orchestra performed a set of pieces that really kicked in the holiday season, ranging from classic Christmas tunes like “Carol of the Bells,” to more untraditional but nonetheless beautiful pieces like “On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss.”
The Junior Varsity orchestra, led by Irma Eristavi, started off the concert with a piece arranged by C.L. Gruselle called “Angels in Royal David’s City.” The piece, although not a traditional Christmas carol, was reminiscent of “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” at times. Despite the slow tempo of the piece, it was a great way to start the concert. The JV orchestra also played more holiday themed pieces, such as “White Christmas,” as arranged by Irving Berlin, and “The Yuletide Rag,” composed by Richard Meyer, an up-tempo take on the classic “Jingle Bells,” which ended their set on a more upbeat tempo.
Up next was the Varsity “B” orchestra, conducted by Richard Engel. The orchestra began their set with a piece composed by M.L. Daniels, “Night Beat.” The song, although not really very festive, gave off a darker Christmas vibe, that somehow seems fitting for the early and stormy days of early December. The piece is in consideration as part of their set for their annual UIL competition in the spring. Following on, more in the holiday spirit, the orchestra closed their set with “Carol of the Bells Variant” composed and arranged by Peter J. Wilhousky and Bill Calhoun. Carol of the Bells is a holiday favorite of many people and the orchestra did it great justice.
Finally, the Varsity Full Orchestra took the stage, also conducted by Mr. Engel. The Full Orchestra is composed not only of stringed instruments but also a select few from the Jaguar Band Wind Symphony. The ensemble began their set with a timeless piece from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” kicking off the last set of the night with a bang, and created an energy that was visible through the rest of the pieces. They followed up with a slower song, “On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss,” arranged by David R. Holsinger. After this, Mr. Engel took a moment to recognize the 48 seniors in the orchestra program, including the guest wind players, with small snow globes. Seeing all of the seniors created a very nostalgic atmosphere, and Mr. Engel even shared a sentimental moment with his son, Christopher Engel, who is a senior this year as well. Finally, after this recognition, the orchestra ended the concert with an uptempo medley of various Christmas carols entitled “A Christmas Festival,” arranged by Leroy Anderson. The piece was lively and festive and had everyone leaving with the feeling of Christmas in their hearts.
Overall, the school’s orchestra program put on a wonderful concert and was a lively and festive way to kick off the holiday season.