Spring MD Concert

Spring+MD+Concert

Clara Stevanovic, Staff Writer

“I’ve found that with Middle School concerts, something always breaks. That’s why I’m carrying this roll of tape with me right now,” band conductor Michael Bomwell said at the Middle Division (MD) Spring Concert, as the audience broke into laughter and applause. After more than two years of online performances brought on by COVID-19, the MD ensembles hosted an in-person concert on Tuesday. The MD band, orchestra, and chorus ensembles performed in front of a large audience of families and friends in Gross Theater. 

Albert Lee (7), a violist in HM Strings, was somewhat worried before performing. “I just had normal stage fright,” he said. Because Lee does theater shows as well, he is often in settings similar to Tuesday’s concert. 

Performing in front of a live audience was exciting for Lee, though he worried about making mistakes during the concert. “You only get one chance to play,” Lee said

Like Lee, Meghan Mantravadi (8), a member of Concert Band, felt that playing live for so many people was difficult. “It was definitely a big change,” she said, “it was really nerve-racking.” Mantravaddi, who played a solo during one of the band pieces, worked hard in preparation for the concert.

Some students, like HM Strings cellist Cary Wang (7), did not feel anxious to perform at all. “I wasn’t nervous for this performance,” Wang said, “It was really casual.”  

The biggest challenge Wang faced during the concert was making sure that he listened to other orchestra members so that the piece ran smoothly. “The thing about orchestra and chamber music is that you always need to listen to each other,” Wang said. 

Emily Park (8), who is also a member of HM Strings, believes that learning and practicing their pieces individually prove to be the greatest struggle for the orchestra ensemble. “The biggest challenges we faced were getting the pieces ready to perform and making sure that each person knew the piece,” she said.  

All of the MD music ensembles encountered difficulties with rehearsals throughout the pandemic. Band conductor Michael Bomwell said that the difference between students’ playing this year compared to last is “hands down night and day.” “The way we’re doing things now feels much more familiar,” he said. 

Both this year and last year, it has been especially challenging for the chorus ensemble to rehearse together, because COVID-19 can be easily spread while students are singing. As a result, chorus conductor Timothy Ho taught each ensemble separately and at different locations throughout the school. 

In the hallway just outside of Gross Theater, one rehearsal spot for the chorus, it was extremely difficult for Ho to hear his students clearly and give them instruction. “When we all came together, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go,” Ho said. “But the students managed to adapt.”

For all sixth and seventh graders, the concert on Tuesday was their first live music performance at HM. Although Wang, who is in seventh grade, has never played in front of an audience with the HM Strings ensemble before, he found that the eighth-grade students in orchestra helped make sure that the concert ran smoothly. “We had really good eighth-grade leaders,” he said. “They were able to lead everyone onstage and to practice together.” 

Chorus member Ella Hecht (8) said that eighth graders in the chorus ensemble were also able to assume leadership positions. “I was especially excited to help get everyone organized and hand out our shirts — an opportunity eighth graders in middle division chorus get to do,” she said. Tuesday’s Spring Concert was special for Hecht because she will no longer be part of the MD Chorus when she enters ninth grade next year. 

Wang also felt that the Spring Concert was different from other performances recorded online. “I was really excited to be able to finally share music in person again, instead of having recordings,” Wang said.

After performing on Tuesday, Wang, a seventh grader, remembered his eagerness to play with the HM Strings ensemble in front of a live audience for the first time. “I wanted to share my passion for music with the audience, and how well the group collaborated together,” he said. 

Like Wang, and many other sixth and seventh grade students, it was Lee’s first time performing live at the school. “I was most looking forward to being with the HM strings group,” he said. 

“My favorite part about the concert,” conductor of HM strings Nathan Hetherington said, “was seeing the kids warming up together beforehand.” Throughout the concert, Hetherington was impressed with the outstanding displays of leadership and maturity students showed. 

As per this year’s program, the Horizons ensemble played The Screaming Eagles, Dona Nobis Pacem, and High Hopes. Concert Band played West Side Story Medley, Bella’s Lullaby (from Twilight), and A Hard Day’s Night. Orchestra conductor Nathan Hetherington chose the classical piece Badinereie for the Chamber Orchestra. HM strings played two songs: Luna, and Folk Tune and Fiddle Dance. To close the concert, the Middle Division Chorus sang Kane’ohe, Wherever I Go, Et In Terra Pax, and Four Chords. 

At the very end of the MD Spring Concert, Ho made a speech addressed to students and families, and friends in the audience, which was met with cheers and much applause. “These past two years have been really awful,” he said. “But I’m just so grateful to you for all of your support, and to these students. I think that gratitude is first and foremost.”