Ensembles Sleigh Holiday Concert


Ariella Frommer  , Staff Writer

This Tuesday, Jazz Combo, Chamber Winds, Steel Drums One, Steel Drums Two, and Wind Ensemble showcase their musical talents in their annual holiday concert in the Cohen Dining Commons. 

Each of the steel bands helped select one song on their setlist with Steel Drums One playing La La Jam Back, Jo Jo’s Theme, and Low Rider, music teacher Alan Bates said. “A couple kids were trying to learn Jo Jo’s Theme on their own, and when I heard them playing it, I brought in an arrangement.” In addition to the songs they chose, each steel drums ensemble played a variety of calypso music — a style from Trinidad and Tobago that Bates incorporates into all of his classes. 

Steel Drums Two students requested to play Locked Out of Heaven for their song, along with Crazy Love which Bates selected. “We wanted to do a pop song and we thought that Locked out of Heaven would be fun to play because it is upbeat,” Maya Westra (12) said.

The Wind Ensemble performed Prelude and Fugue by Bach and American Riversongs. Elise Kang (11) enjoyed playing Prelude and Fugue the most, she said. “It is more oriented to high-note instruments, and we have more of those in the band, so it grew on me.”

The steel bands began preparing for this concert at the start of the school year, Bates said. “We started off in September getting into some basics, and then moved on to learning the songs,” he said. “Everything they do on the instrument, even when they do scales, is leading towards playing our songs.” 

Eliana Son (9) was excited and nervous going into the concert, she said. “I had never performed in the cafeteria before, and I was a little intimidated to play so close to the audience.”

This concert was the one of the firsts since COVID that felt quite normal, Bates said. “The audience was really happy to be back and watching us perform live.” Also, students could listen to the other groups perform, which is an important part of being a musician, he said. 

Son enjoyed watching the other groups she had not seen before, she said. “I thought the other performances were really impressive, and I enjoyed getting to listen to all of them for the first time.”

Although Odell tried to listen attentively to the other ensembles, she felt nervous since the Wind Ensemble performed last, she said. Nevertheless, she especially enjoyed Chamber Winds’ rendition of Sleigh Ride because she was friends with the performers and it felt winter-like, Odell said.

Odell did not attend the spring concert last year which made this her first concert since sixth grade. “It was really nice to be there and have an actual audience as opposed to a computer screen,” she said.