Orchestra and choir unite for last concert of the decade

By Damaris Ibrahim , Hawkeye Staff

On Tuesday, December 17, choir and orchestra students came together for their annual winter concert. The concert was especially notable as the last one of the decade for both Terrace’s choir and orchestra. 

Under the friendly gaze of the snowman behind them, the groups put on marvelous performances full of seasonal spirit, musical variety and skills that left the audience with wonder and excitement for the coming festivities.

The night began with the concert orchestra performing a wide variety of songs. This included songs that ranged from several well-known tunes to merry carols and slower symphonies.

One of their featured songs, “Christmas Concerto,” is a piece well known for being a beautiful and poignant depiction of the winter season. 

The concert orchestra was especially prepared for this year’s winter concert from playing at the Santa Breakfast on the previous Saturday, which proved to pay off as they were able to provide an excellent welcoming for the rest of the night yet to come. 

The chamber orchestra came next, and their holiday spirit was shown with a variety of Santa hats and unique pairs of reindeer antlers covered in Christmas lights.

I was pretty nervous for the unconducted piece, but it went pretty alright and better than expected, and was pretty good for our second time playing.”

— Amy Nguyen

Their performance included “Still, Still, Still,” a traditional Austrian carol, an arrangement of the Frozen’s hit song “Let It Go” and also featured the second movement of “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”, in which students displayed their unity and skill as an orchestra. The students were able to perform all of this all while performing without a conductor.

“I was pretty nervous for the unconducted piece, but it went pretty alright and better than expected, and was pretty good for our second time playing,” sophomore first violinist Amy Nguyen said.

Nguyen believes that the orchestra’s final performance of 2019 was a fitting sendoff to the year and a good preparation for things to come.

“I was pretty happy with the last concert of the year,” she said as they prepare to head into 2020 preparing for solo ensembles. 

Chamber orchestra ended their performance with “Christmas in About Three Minutes.” Orchestra teacher Jennifer Schillen described this as a fun one for everyone as the audience was able to listen in and recognize different christmas tunes and think “Aha! I know that song—and oh, that one too!”

Some of the songs the audience could catch in the performance included “Here We Come a Caroling,” “Up on the Rooftop,” “Joy to the World,” “the Holly and the Ivy,” “Oh Christmas Tree,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Carol of the Bells.”

Many of those in attendance were surprised when the orchestra let out a joyous “Merry Christmas” in unison at the end of their piece, which was a delightful end to a wonderful performance from both orchestras. 

The audience broke into delighted applause and the orchestra made way for the choir’s performance.

In contrast to the orchestra’s warm and welcoming overall feel, the MTHS choir’s performance seemed to capture a different side to the season. The choir evoked the chilling beauty of snow in winter, but also brought forth a feeling of snuggling close to the fire with a cup of cocoa. 

Directed by choir teacher T.J. Sullivan, the choir was united as one, unlike in years past when the choir was split up in multiple sections. 

Every concert is special because kids can step into the limelight. Every concert is special because it brings out the best in everybody.”

— Jennifer Schillen

Of the songs they have been working on from the beginning of the school year, Gloria was the hardest according to Sullivan, consisting of nine distinct parts. 

The choir’s performance opened with “Count Your Blessings.” From there, they transitioned to a cold, but beautiful ballad of “Mary Did You Know.”

Following the pack was a jazzy a capella entitled “White Winter Hymnal”. The song featured five students who performed the choreography first done by the Pentatonix. They were backed up by the rest of the choir who carried the beat through claps and snaps. 

Their other songs included the pop song “Mad World”, the mesmerizing “Candlelight Carol” and “Because.” 

And finally, the song “Gloria,” performed by Terrace’s very own angels heard on high’, featuring soloists Ritika Khanal, Caitlyn Gilchrist and Olivia Donelson. 

“I don’t know if it’s the strongest, but [‘Gloria’] is one of my favorites,” senior Peja Shymko said.

Freshman Cara Lazaro shared similar thoughts about the piece.

“Gloria is one of my favorites because of all the parts. [the song] is challenging, and the whole choir had to come together,” Lazaro said.

The song was also a favorite of Luke Bailey, the choir’s guest musician and pianist, for the song’s “positive feel and message and all the different harmonies.” 

“[Working with the choir has] been fantastic,” Bailey said. “They’ve really improved a ton this quarter and it’s been a joy to be a part of.”

As the choir’s performance came to a close, the Chamber Orchestra returned to play one last entitled “God Bless Us Everyone” from “A Christmas Carol,” based on the beloved Christmas classic by Charles Dickens. 

Ending the night on a positive note, the collaborated piece felt like something straight out of a Christmas movie and was a splendid finale to the last joint orchestra and choir winter concert of the decade. 

“I think there were lots of good moments,” Sullivan shared once the concert was over. “They all sang in tune…it’s live Music Man!”  

Schillen believes that each concert carries immense importance for each of the student performers who take part in them. 

“Every concert is special because kids can step into the limelight,” Schillen said.“Every concert is special because it brings out the best in everybody.”