“We have some really talented people in our orchestras and choir,” said Felecia Keys, orchestra and choir teacher.
“We have one of the best orchestras in any public or private school. I know because I listen to all of them.”
Band teacher Bob Ratcliff and Keys will direct the band and jazz band’s winter concert on Wednesday, Dec. 14, and the orchestra and choir’s concert on Thursday, Dec. 15, respectively. The middle and high school play in both.
The concerts start at 7 p.m. and are expected to run for just over an hour.
In the band concert, both the middle- and high-school band will play three pieces each, including “Anitra’s Dance” by Edvard Grieg and “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson.
“All the songs have different meanings for me,” Ratcliff said.
“‘Anitra’s Dance’ is a piece from a suite, ‘Peer Gynt,’ which is part of an established repertoire for classical music. It’s important to play things from a wide genre.”
And Ratcliff said that “Sleigh Ride” is one of his favorite songs.
“It actually sounds like you’re riding in a sleigh,” he said. “One of the nice things about (it) is it reminds you of the season, without having religious connotations.”
“I try to mix in a little bit of seasonal music, since it is around the holidays.”
The orchestra and choir concert will work a bit differently. Although the middle- and high-school choir each have their own songs, they will combine for two.
Freshman Héloïse Schep, who will sing in the choir, particularly enjoys this aspect of the winter concert.
“I love the winter concert because it combines the middle- and high-school choir, meaning we have a lot more voices and opportunities for solos and harmonies,” she said. “It means we can do a lot more songs.”
The choir will perform “Dreams” by Langston Hughes; and the orchestra will perform “Carol of the Bells” by Michael Hopkins, “Christmas Pipes,” and the theme from “Downton Abbey.”
“(‘Downton Abbey’) is hard because we have two meters going at the same time,” Keys said. “(The students) have to count without listening to the other group. One group is playing in four, while the other is playing in three.”
Keys said she also enjoys “Carol of the Bells,” citing the percussion’s large role and the rock rhythm.
Freshmen David Situ said he likes “Christmas Pipes” the best.
“It’s different from lot of the holiday songs I normally hear,” he said.
At the end of the concert, the audience will join the performers in singing “Winter Wonderland” and “Let it Snow.”
Both Keys and Ratcliff encourage students to come to the concerts.
“People are often surprised about how good the groups sound,” Ratcliff said.
“(Come) support your friends and support the arts. That’s something we say we value at this school.”