MD musicians end the year’s final concert on high note


Courtesy of Barry Mason

Meenakshi Vora and Zoe Manges

“We’ve put so much effort into this — this is the last piece we’re performing this year, so we want to make it our time to shine,” David Porres (7) said as rehearsal began for the Middle Division (MD) Spring Concert this Tuesday. The Concert Band, Horizons Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra, MD Strings, and MD Chorus all performed at the final concert of the year, which featured the most advanced material that they had performed so far, with pieces by musicians ranging from Beethoven to Taylor Swift.

Before the concert, students practiced their pieces for the last time with a mix of nerves and anticipation. Jane Zhao (6), who plays violin in the Chamber Orchestra, hoped the audience would appreciate the passion that went into the concert. “I want people to pay attention to the energy coming from our playing,” she said. Zhao was especially looking forward to performing Beethoven’s “Allegretto.” “It’s really exciting — a lot of it is in ‘forte,’ which means loud, and it’s a quick tempo,” she said.

As the Chamber Orchestra rehearsed their arrangement, Orchestra Director Nathan Hetherington urged the students to channel the energy of the composition into their playing. “It’s those sixteenth notes,” he said. “That’s where you get that supercharged Beethoven feeling.”

The concert began with Concert Band Director Michael Bomwell leading the Horizons Ensemble in performing “The Theme from The Simpsons,” before moving to the upbeat song “Caribbean Carnival,” which combined the wind instruments with drumming and whistling. Then, the MD Concert Band played the fast-paced “Electricity” and the slower “Ave Maria,” before Horizons Ensemble rejoined them to play the lively “Oye Como Va.”

The MD Chamber Orchestra then took the stage and played Beethoven’s Allegretto from “The Creatures of Prometheus,” a song that alternated between slower, more melancholy sections, and faster, livelier sections, making their performance dynamic. HM Strings followed with their rendition of the “Nordic Suite”, a selection of four pieces, each with its own unique character.

The event concluded with the MD Chorus, which first sang the Hawaiian song Pūpū A O ʻEwa, accompanied by hula dancing. Afterward, the eighth graders sang Taylor Swift’s “Never Grow Up,” a song that they’d selected themselves for Middle Memories and had learned in only three rehearsals. They ended the concert with their poignant and uplifting performance of “What the World Needs Now is Love,” closing the night on a high note. 

The two-hour concert was the culmination of months of hard work and perseverance. “I kind of consider September until now as all preparation for this concert,” However, the process wasn’t without its difficulties. “Ave Maria” in particular presented a challenge for the students, Bomwell said. “The lyrical and slow [pace] requires a lot of control and listening, and that is probably the most difficult thing for middle schoolers.”

Middle Division Chorus Director Timothy Ho was glad to hear the students’ singing onstage this year. Due to lingering COVID-19 concerns, chorus spent the past two years imagining or humming their songs. “Students would have to record themselves from their house, or their car, or some people were outside, some people were in their bathrooms,” Ho said. 

This year, Ho gave the students time to become comfortable before transitioning into more aggressive or heavy singing. To compensate for the change and the stress of his students, he cut down the number of songs from the usual four. “​​I tried to take one more thing off of their plate so that we could focus on three songs we felt really, really good about.”

Despite the challenges, the young musicians’ persistence, hard work, and passion paid off that night.