Students Prepare for Winter Concert


Aaron Li

Photo from 2019 Art for Charity Concert

After a semester of in-class rehearsals, the Upper School Instrumental Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, and Choir will make their first of three major performances on Friday, January 18th at 6:00 at the Upper School Winter Concert in the Blauvelt Theater. Although all three groups have performed at school events in the first half of the 2019-20 school year, Friday’s concert will be the first time they have presented to a full theater. 

Students in the Instrumental Ensemble, which performed Town With an Ocean View from Kiki’s Delivery Service at the Gratitude Assembly this November, have expressed some doubt about their preparedness for Friday’s concert. This may result from this year’s changes in the daily school schedule. This year, all music classes meet less often for longer periods of time, and many students believe this disrupts the rhythm of rehearsals. “It’s exponentially worse than last year” says C.C. Servon ’21, who plays in the Instrumental and Percussion Ensembles. “For orchestra, we’re not even close to prepared. The whole strings section isn’t prepared” says C.C.. “We usually pull through with these things, though. I’m not in love with either of the pieces we’re playing.” Margot Schneider ’22 offered some optimism, though: “We’re prepared for two of the pieces: a Brahms piece and a Rhapsody. The second piece we’re playing, Rhapsody, is really centered around three people (Oliver Qu ’20, Tony Lian ’21, and Charlie Chen ’23), and they’re very prepared.”

The Upper School Choir, which performed Siyahamba at this fall’s mural unveiling and What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong at the Gratitude Assembly, will be making its first performance since Nathan Wadley assumed the role of Choir director. Wadley is planning many bold approaches for his first concert at Friends Select, including experiments with theater space and mash-ups of popular songs. “I think, at least for most of our pieces, we are good to go” says Choir student Gabe Tarini ’21.

One ensemble, Chamber Orchestra, will be making their first performance of the year. A chamber orchestra differs from a traditional orchestra in that it is only comprised of classical instruments. Although Chamber Orchestra has been offered as a class at Friends Select for a few years, students were slow to warm to the class this year. Margot says, “A lot of us didn’t like it very much at first, but we’ve sort of come around to it.” They will perform two songs at the concert.

Students in the Percussion Ensemble, which performed Siyahamba with the Choir earlier this year, are very confident in their preparation for the concert. Because percussion musicians also play in the Instrumental Ensemble, the Percussion Ensemble has also suffered from the change in the schedule; they now only meet in their small group once a cycle. Nonetheless, “it will be awesome,” says C.C.

This year’s concert will also  use a different audio recording process. Max Budnick and the Technically Theater class have set up a number of microphones in the Blauvelt Theater to get the best recording possible. “We’re going to capture the audio in a clearer way this year to share with people who won’t be at the concert. We’re trying to collect the whole room’s sound, so we’re collecting sound from the balcony this year” says May Colgan ’23, who is a member of the AV Club.

Admission for Friday’s concert is free. Students not involved in the music program will sit in the left side of the balcony while friends and family will sit in the lower level. Upper School Musical Ensembles will perform again at the World Cafe Live concert on Tuesday, March 10th and at the Upper School Spring Concert on Tuesday, May 5th.