Winter Concert Brings Holiday Cheers

"I play alot of music mainly to get girls, and guitar by itself wasn’t enough so I challenged myself to play with my teeth."

“I play a lot of music mainly to get girls. But guitar by itself wasn’t enough at first, so I challenged myself to play with my teeth,” senior Nithin Venkatraman said.

On Dec. 16 and 17, Mt. Hebron hosted its annual Winter Concert, a two-night performance featuring hundreds of talented students within the school’s fine arts programs.

The second night featured groups ranging from Wind Ensemble to Barbershop Quartet, and for the first time ever, a combination of singers and dancers called Show Choir.

The night opened with performances from the String Orchestra, playing “Nocturne and March From a Moorside Suite.” The song began with soothing melodies, eventually swinging into impressive, upbeat arpeggios that lead perfectly into the epic, superhero-esque second song, “Vanishing Point,” by Richard Meyer.

Providing masterful bass lines at first chair for their respective instruments were seniors Lucian Lum on the upright bass and Stephanie Bao, also a soloist during the performance. Bao, a nine-year cellist, was joined in her “Vanishing Point” solo by seniors Nithin Venkatraman (viola), Christine Machovec (violin) and Madi Au (violin).

“We had played that same song our freshman year, just the four of us. We’re the only four-year orchestra members, so it meant a lot,” said Bao.

For some of the Orchestra veterans, the spring concert might be the last time they play for an audience. “Maybe I’ll keep playing in college, but it would only be for a club,” stated Machovec. But shutting their violin cases one last time might be too difficult.

“‘I’ve been doing this for so long that it would be wrong to stop and not do it anymore,” said Au.

Whether the journey will be over or not come springtime, Orchestra will always be a fond memory and the start of a friendship to last a lifetime.

“When I started, I only really started because of Madi. We were best friends. It was like good peer pressure, if you know what I mean,” laughed Machovec.

Following the Orchestra was the Jazz Band, who added tasteful energy to a Christmas medley featuring “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” and verses of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” ending with “Frosty the Snowman,” with foot-tapping rhythm by senior percussionists Ben Bellis and Brandon Breazeale.

Soloists included senior Evan Winter (trumpet) and junior Devlin Donaldson (saxophone).

“Bradleys Bebop Express” was the soulful Jazz Band’s final song, featuring solos from Venkatraman on guitar and from a pair of talented siblings, senior Rebecca Freerksen (saxophone) and her freshman brother Tim.

Venkatraman, previously mentioned as the first chair viola player, plays saxophone in the marching band and is also the guitarist for both the Jazz Band and the Pit Orchestra for several Mt. Hebron theater productions.

“I just really enjoy music, so I just picked up instruments as I went along. But guitar is by far my favorite instrument to play,” added Venkatraman.

The Concert Choir impressed the audience with a Mauri tune out of New Zealand. With concert attire (tux and black dress), Mt. Hebron’s vocalists and their chants and stomps truly resembled the “All Blacks,” the Kiwi rugby team.

The next choir group, The Chamber Choir, was highlighted by senior Bert Zhang’s Spanish solos during “Mata Del Anima Sol.” The talented tenor was bolstered by immense young talent during choruses and other verses. Sophomores in Chamber Choir include Alyssa Tschirgi, Sam Bishop and siblings Rory and Kevin Nolan.

Following Chamber Choir, Zhang, Bishop, senior Cole Watts and junior Tharen Rice remained on stage to sing “Hello My Baby,” not before a few jokes and even a “selfie” taken on stage, of course. The barbershop quartet surrounded Zhang as he took the picture (trying to also include the audience).

(From left to right) Watts, Rice, Bishop, and Zhang

(From left to right) Watts, Rice, Bishop, and Zhang

Leading up to the grand finale, Show Choir sang and danced “America,” from West Side Story with solos by juniors Eleanor Zhang (another multi-talented musician in both Chamber Choir and Orchestra), Alyssa Matanin and Kendall Grove.

Then, Wind Ensemble played themes from the Nutcracker Suite, junior Corey Hamilton leading the tubists, before every musician took the stage at once.

“It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” featured solos by seniors Lauren Goodwin and Cole Watts, which can be seen here:

Senior Mary Liberto impressed when she took the solo role in the Latin song “Esurientes” just before the show, standing in for sophomore Emma Kate Davis, who was ill.

Junior Kaeli Tilghman ended the winter concert with a flawless alto performance of “Gloria,” singing in Latin as well with solely the flutes and violins.

When conductor Chris Hettenbach signaled the last resounding notes to a close, Mt. Hebron’s musicians were deserving of the standing ovation that ensued.

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