Holiday Harmonies

By KELLY CHEN, sophomore

The JP Stevens Orchestra welcomed the holiday season with its annual winter concert on December 3. For this concert, the orchestra was directed by Ms. Perkel, long-term substitute teacher for Mr. Verdi while he was on sabbatical. The Concert, Camerata, and Chamber orchestras played in the auditorium to students, parents, and surprise guest Mr. Verdi.

The Concert Orchestra, the largest group that performed, opened the show with the song “Folk Tune” by Percy Fletcher. This English folk song was a performance rich with dynamics and vitality and featured a violin solo by senior Ali Pasha. The Concert Orchestra rehearsed often to be able to perform, because the members needed to become accustomed to their new director. “It was a new experience to have a teacher who conducted in a different way,” said sophomore Katherine Cheng. “The constant practice and preparation was what allowed us to play ‘Folk Tune’ well.”

After the Concert Orchestra performed, the Camerata Orchestra took the stage to play two classical selections. The first movement that the Camerata Orchestra played was the Adagio movement of Arcangelo Corelli’s “Concerto Grosso in G minor.” The Camerata Orchestra’s final piece was “Winter” from Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The last group to perform was the Chamber Ensemble, the most selective orchestra at JP Stevens. Taking cues from each other and concertmistress junior Grace Wu, the Chamber members played without a conductor. The Chamber Orchestra started off with six movements of a holiday classic, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.  “Trepak,” one of the most famous movements of the suite, was exciting and extremely fast. “Arabian Dance,” the next movement, was a strong contrast to Trepak. It consisted of notes in the lower register of all instruments, and featured the cellists more. The Nutcracker Suite ended with “Waltz of the Flowers,” a movement with loud, majestic notes that resonated in the auditorium. The final piece of the concert was a swing rendition of “White Christmas,” arranged by The Drifters. “White Christmas” was different from the classical pieces that Chamber Orchestra usually played due to its modern style, but it was a welcome change. “Some of us were skeptical about playing ‘White Christmas’ at first, but once we heard it all come together, it was a fun experience and it gave us a break from our usual repertoire,” said junior Courtney Zeng. The song included an improvised bass line and several soloists. For many of the seniors, the winter concert was an experience to remember because it was their last. Senior Ketaki Joshi said, “As the concert approached, preparing the music was a challenge, but we all worked together, and the result was the making of beautiful music.”

Because of Ms. Perkel’s direction and the diligence of the orchestra, the winter concert was an event full of memories and music that remained with everyone involved.

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