SHS Orchestra Presents Final Concert Of The School Year
May 17, 2019
Closing out the Spring concert season for 2019, the SHS Chamber and Symphonic Orchestras performed a rich variation of pieces on Tuesday, May 7th. Led by SHS Orchestra Director Amédée Williams, many of the orchestra’s student musicians had only a few months prior traveled to Austria and Hungary as part of their biennial touring series.
The Chamber Orchestra, the smaller ensemble made up of more senior musicians, featured several star soloists in their repertoire. They opened the concert with Concerto Grosso op.6 No.1 G.F. by Handel. Then Vishnu Srinivas ’20 played the soothing solo in Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C K.467 W.A. Deborah Zhang ’19 followed with a powerful performance of the first movement of the Elgar Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85. Next, the winner of the 2019 Orchestra Award, Abigail Nishiwaki ’19, stunned audience members with her technique and musicality in three movements of A. Vivaldi’s Concerto in F minor. The Chamber Orchestra finished their program with Sinfonia No. 1 by J. Haydn.
Barely fitting on the stage, the tremendous Symphonic Orchestra, representing students from all grades and musical backgrounds, began with an arrangement of Bethena by Joplin. Juling Wang ’21, James Coleman ’20, and Harry Parks ’20 then played solo parts in several movements from Grieg’s From Holberg’s Time Op. 40. Their penultimate piece was an upbeat strings rendition of ABBA’s Mamma Mia.
The performance was paused to momentarily commemorate those leaving the school this year—graduating seniors, as well as retiring faculty members Performing Arts Department Chair Craig Sherman and Theatrical Consultant Stephen Bogardus. Then, seniors spent several minutes speaking about their favorite orchestra moments and memories of Williams. “Mr. Williams, you have truly created a wonderful atmosphere in your orchestra room. I think it’s better than a free because you know there’s someone there who wants you to be there. We all really appreciate it—I don’t think anything we could do could thank you enough for it,” said Diana Nerangis ’19.
Williams, as the conductor for the All-District Orchestra and youth groups at Hoff Barthelson Music School, has watched dozens of students mature and grow musically. “Thank you for giving me so many performance opportunities and for allowing me to solo tonight. Your support and guidance has helped make music a big part of my life and shaped me into the musician I am today”, said Zhang. Several students have even known Williams since as early as the second grade, including Nishiwaki. “I’d like to say I’ve changed a bit since [elementary school], and I truly think that a large part of that is thanks to [Mr. Williams]. Orchestra has been such an integral part of my academic career throughout high school, and I am thankful for the light it provided in the darkness that was first-semester senior year,” reflected Nishiwaki.
Several seniors, including Maya Bharara ’19, noted William’s more humorous nuances. “Thank you for making your class the highlight of my day, always giving us invaluable life advice, and sharing your love of books with us,” said Bharara. The seniors in orchestra pooled together to purchased several gifts: a program from their Europe tour signed by all of the students and chaperones that went, as well as two books—a musician’s biography to add to his collection, and a book full of dad jokes. Williams hurriedly thanked and ushered everyone back to their seats, eager to begin a fantastic finish to the night with the first movement of Dvořák’s New World Symphony.
Although the performance season is over for now, orchestra students will begin looking at new pieces and adapting to the absence of one-fourth of the class. Still, the Spring concert was a sad yet memorable and successful send-off for senior orchestra students.
Watch the whole performance here.