By Maya Agarwal, Staff Writer
// Credits roll on the big screen, silencing the tightly packed audience and engaging them in an opening message: “May the tuning fork be with you.” As the lights set and the first note of Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me” plays, colors burst from the stage eliciting the audience’s amaze of music and eye-catching elements for the night ahead.
Acalanes Instrumental Music hosted their annual Pops Concert on Oct. 19 in the Performing Arts Center (PAC). Lauren Gibson and Meredith Hawkins, the school’s Instrumental Music Director and Choral Music teacher, directed the Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Orchestra, and Choir.
With this year’s theme, “Come Fly With Us,” musicians performed songs from popular movies, musicals, and radio artists. This included pieces from Starwars, Top Gun, Spiderman, and How to Train Your Dragon.
Both the instrumental music ensembles and choir began working on their repertoire in August. As the instrumental music ensembles worked on technique, tone, balance of instrumentation, and articulation, many performing musicians found that Gibson’s motivation and critique helped them to excel on stage.
“She [told us] ‘here’s what you do, here’s how you prepare.’ For instance, in jazz band she was telling us ‘okay before you play Spiderman, make sure you’re singing the beginning in your head so that you’re ready to play it.’ She got us really excited. Ms. Gibson honestly did most of that work and we would not be the same without her,” trumpetist and junior Zero Hill said.
Meanwhile, the choir rehearsed their music in smaller sections, listened to part tracks, and brought in outside professionals to learn how to sing in different styles. Singers worked on applying important details into their performance and took time to commit lyrics to memory.
Senior Tess Gundacker, the section leader of the Sopranos, ensured each performer was familiar with timing and confident with each piece.
“[I] made sure that everyone knew the words and where we were coming in and …would cut off. I made sure that I knew all that stuff myself … Then [I] made sure that everyone else in my section knew as well. [This] entailed practicing at home and making sure we got it all together in class,” Gundacker said.
While preparing for the concert, the musicians also learned how to execute an audience-engaging stage presence.
“We’ve spent all year practicing…[In Class] we work[ed] on a performance style and we’ve [also] been working on…performing on stage [and] how to be a performer in terms of not just the music, but how you present yourself,” Gibson said.
The Jazz Ensemble began the performance playing Frank Sinatra’s piece, “Come Fly With Me,” while a joint composition of the Wind Ensemble and Orchestra ended the night with “Star Wars Through the Years.”
“My favorite piece was ‘Star Wars,’ because [it] was a piece that we [the Wind Ensemble] got to play with the Orchestra. I really liked how the orchestra … helped us maintain our melody and support[ed] us … [I] enjoyed playing with them and seeing how they could mix it up with our Melody,” clarinetist and sophomore Monique Khouw said.
Throughout the night, performers incorporated costume changes, comedic comments, a color changing backdrop, and even a surprise bass solo from Principal Shawn into their production.
“Another thing that I love to do is pulling in visual elements…so that everything comes together, all of the elements, to make for the performance rather than the music…The music is the important part but there’s so many other things we can do to enhance that,” Gibson said.
Students, families of the performers, teachers, and even Lafayette Partners in Education (LPIE) members showed up in support of Acalanes’ musicians.
“We had a really big audience…They were loud, they were supportive, [and] they were cheering … Overall, I think it was very well organized. Our transitions were good between bands and it was a lot of fun,” trombonist and senior Riley Bonner said.
Many performers felt that the crowd’s diversity helps create a connection between the performer and audience.
“I think we also had a lot of kids in the crowd. It wasn’t just parents and because we have a lot of our friends who aren’t in the music groups, they always support us and it’s really great to have that connection,” Trumpetist and sophomore Rohini Vrajmohan said.
High school music concerts provide a chance for the community to bond with one another and create a supportive atmosphere for artists to grow and express themselves.
“I think it was a great turnout of people and it’s amazing to see friends and supporters of the performers come out. I think that it really builds up an energy especially being a performer… [to] have them come support a craft that you work so hard at and truly love, it’s super special and I think…[it] pushed us further to perform the best that we could,” Gundacker said.
Photos by Maya Agarwal, Staff Writer