Band, chorus and orchestra perform at Arcola to close out 2021


Madison Roeger

The chamber strings perform Air on the G String.

By Sameeksha Panda

MHS’s music department hosted its annual winter concert in Arcola Intermediate School’s auditorium on Dec. 22.. Featuring performances from the various high school orchestra, band, and chorus groups, the free concert welcomed parents, students and others in the MHS community.

The chorale, directed by Elizabeth Francisco, MHS choir director, kicked off the evening. Their performance began with “Come And Dance,” arranged by Toby Young, and “All Is Quiet (Winter Lullaby),” arranged by Josh Sparkman. The music featured soloist Paige Alaishuski and accompanist Dylan Wen. 

The same group then performed Ocho Kandelikas, a Ladino song arranged by Joshua Jacobson, with soloist Nora Alaishuski and instrumental accompanists Braedon O’Hara and Steven Hoehl. Mrs. Francesco mentioned the difference between Ladino and Spanish prior to the performance, noting the difference can be heard through the counting of the numbers in the song, as the chorale then sang.

After chorale, the orchestra, directed by Joyce Magann, took the stage to perform “Suite For Strings” by Elliot Del Borgom which featured four parts: Intrada, Fugue, Canto and Dance. 

The evening then segued to the Jazz Choir, also directed by Elizabeth Fancisco, who sang “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” arranged by Hayes. 

Mrs. Francisco then explained the significance of the performers of the next song, “Christmas Time Is Here,” as arranged by Audrey Snyder, who were the Choir Section Leaders. These eight MHS students help Mrs. Francisco fulfill the daily tasks required to manage the choir groups, and are “excellent students who work very hard and create a fun-filled atmosphere every day,” said Francisco. 

Next in the performance queue was the MHS Chamber Strings, who performed two pieces, “Air on the G String” by J.S. Bach (Orchestral Suite No. 3) and “Alleluia” by W.A. Mozart (Exultate Jubilate). Subsequently, cellists Nathan Choi, Matthew Chung, Owen Li, Alex Kang and Brandon Park, entered the pit to perform as the MHS Cello Ensemble.

The cello ensemble first played “Kanon” by Johann Pachelbel, which also featured Jacob Tamasco on the violin, and then “La Réjouissance” by G.F Handel (Music for the Royal Fireworks). Both the Chamber Strings and Cello Ensemble performed without a director, as traditionally is done in professional orchestras.

The MHS Concert Band then entered the stage with Jeffery McCoach as director to perform their first piece, “A Christmas Suite,” as arranged by Elliot Del Borgo. 

Then, Mr. McCoach took the microphone to explain the background of choosing their next song, “Santa The Barbarian,” as arranged by Russell Standridge. Apparently, the concert band members felt this song, which gave “Game of Thrones vibes,” as Mr. McCoach put it, was the perfect twist of a traditional Christmas song. With Mr. Bret Mascaro, a former MHS band director, acting as narrator, the band performed the song with applause from the audience. 

The concert band concluded their performance with “The Eighth Candle,” arranged by Steve Reisteter (Prayer and Dance for Hanukkah), which featured soloist performances by Everett Weaver on the alto saxophone and Johnathan Falvo on the trumpet.

Ending the evening, the MHS Concert Choir, featuring Dylan Wen as accompanist for all the songs, performed “My Favorite Things,” arranged by Mac Huff, “A La Nanita Nana,” arranged by Victor C. Johnson, and “White Christmas,” arranged by Audrey Snyder, which featured instrumental accompaniment by Braedon O’Hara on bass, Benjamin Kurtz on string bass and Steven Hoehl on percussion.

The jazz choir, looking to “bring up the holiday mood”, after principal Dr. Grievance asked Mrs. Francisco to do about a month prior, performed a rendition of the popular holiday song “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” The singing included soloist performances by Ananya Shrivastava, Alex Pack, Nicole Paone and Sonja Otero. The same group also choreographed a dance for the jazz choir while singing the pop hit.