Orchestra and choir director Felecia Keys accepts her gift basket of Mexico-themed goods from senior and violinist Lily Brown.

Seniors’ solos shine in consecutive spring concerts (video included)

Shimin Zhang
Orchestra and choir director Felecia Keys accepts her gift basket of Mexico-themed goods from senior and violinist Lily Brown.

According to band director Bob Ratcliff, the groups who hit the stage on Thursday, April 19, for the annual spring band concert showcased their musicianship and emotional components to music, something which he said has not been done in years.

“Art is all about expression,” Ratcliff said. “This year I’ve been able to concentrate on the art of music and not just mechanics.”

Ratcliff further said that the band has worked on “artistic expression” – such as shaping lines of music instead of only regular dynamics – for three weeks.

One piece that the high school band performed to highlight that expression was “Defiance” by James Newton Howard.

Dubbed by flute soloist senior Annya Dahmani as a “spooky” ballad, this song was a test of keeping a steady rhythm, she said.

“It’s tough because I want to speed up at times because it’s pretty slow, so I’ve just got keep in time,” she said.

The high school concert band also played “Bonds of Unity” by Karl L. King and “Legacy” by James L. Swearingen.

Although “Defiance” was Dahmani’s first concert band solo, she typically has improvisational solos in the high school jazz band, which performed “Off to Buffalo” by Dan Higgins, “Concheka” by Bob Meyer and “Squib Cakes” by Tower of Power.

Dahmani wasn’t the only soloing senior this concert season.

The night before, multiple seniors were featured in the concert directed by orchestra teacher Felecia Keys, which showcased the high school and middle school orchestras, chamber ensembles and the choir.

Senior Amalie Fackenthal (violin) and junior Kyra LaFitte (viola) both had solo lines during “Iditarod” by Soon Hee Newbold. And senior Lily Brown played alongside the choir in “Windy Nights,” a choral version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “Words.”

The choir featured senior Crystal Jiang as well as junior Monique Lonergan during a choral arrangement of Michael Jackson’s “I’ll Be There.”

The last soloing senior of the symphonic soirée was one who was not on the program but who decided to play during the seniors’ thank-you speeches for Keys: senior Atsuo Chiu.

After Brown, Fackenthal and fellow seniors Yasmin Gupta and Carlos Nuñez had given Keys Mexico-themed gifts, Chiu asked if he could play a section of Beethoven’s “Sonata Pathétique.”

Keys said she was touched by Chiu’s solo.

“It brought tears to my eyes – I’ll never forget it,” she said.

“I’ve never been so touched or moved by a gift. That was the perfect fit from Atsuo, as though he knew it.

“I hope the audience appreciates what they listened to.”

Ratcliff echoed Keys’s statement, saying that he hoped concert-goers enjoyed what they heard at the band concert.    

All groups who played at the April 18 and April 19 concerts (except the chamber groups) were preparing for the annual Forum Music Festival, a music competition in Vallejo, California, on Saturday, April 21.

—By Chardonnay Needler

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