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    • Students in the Orchestra and Concert Choir perform at Battell Chapel.

    • Schroth conducts the 2018-2019 Concert Choir.

Students Perform “Music of Winter” at Battell Chapel

Evangeline Doolittle ’23
On December 17, the Hopkins Orchestra and Concert Choir filled a packed Battell Chapel with euphonious music.
The theme of this year’s concert was drama. Robert Smith, the Head of the Arts Department and Director of Instrumental Music, shared, “This concert was about selling the musical drama and raw emotion written into the pieces. We performed compositions that evoke mirth, sadness, wonder, excitement, perhaps even more than that.” Erika Schroth the Direct of Choral Music and conductor of the Hopkins Concert Choir exclaimed, “I think there’s something for everyone!”

This semester, the Orchestra pivoted from their standard routine. Smith noted before the concert, “We changed our format this time around to really play up the drama in the music. I think the audience is going to love the unexpected moments in the concert, and it will set the stage for even more creative performances in the future.” Jackson Weisman ’20, a clarinetist, echoed this theme: “We played pieces selected to exhibit the spectacle of drama like a historical battle recreation... This allows for the audience to have listening experiences they would not expect from a high school orchestra.” Musicians shared the same zeal for this performance.

First-year Alto One in Concert Choir, Julia Brennan ’23, exclaimed, “The pieces I enjoyed per- forming the most were ‘Kaisa-isa Niyan’ because of its incredible tempo and harmonic crossovers, and ‘Winters Night’ because of its calming aura that truly allows you to feel the atmosphere around you, it really takes you to a different world in my opinion.”

Those in the Orchestra and Concert Choir were excited to share their love of music at the elegant chapel. A first-year soprano in the concert choir, Caterina Cassin ’23 described, “ It was rewarding to perform in such an amazing venue and formal setting. The extravagance just adds to the sense of accomplishment.” Amanda Wang ’23 described the feeling: “You gather around with so many other talented musicians just like you and share the warmth, power, and love of music.”

Many of the seniors in the Orchestra were nervous as well as excited about their last concert. Weisman ’20 said, “I do not usually get nervous before performances.

This year, however, that was different because I am a senior. As this was my last winter concert, a new element of ending with success was in the front of my
mind.” Eleanor Doolittle ’20, the harpist, said, “The orchestra has been a great part of my life at Hopkins. I am grateful for the opportunity to play in such a beautiful concert every year, and for all that Mr. Smith has done for the orchestra.”

Some of the freshmen in the orchestra were both confident and nervous about their first high- school performance. Wang, mentioned, “I was definitely nervous about learning more difficult music that I’m not familiar with usually playing.” She continued, “I’ve been playing the violin for about seven to eight years now, and it’s common for me to feel nervous before performances when the music is difficult. However, I do believe that growth is a process, and that practice makes perfect.” Benjamin Card ’23 said, “I was nervous about some of the slow sections because any screw-ups on those would be obvious.” He continued, “I was really excited about playing the pieces that we’ve worked really hard on for a huge audience, and taking them from a small room to a huge chapel.” Singers in the concert choir also expressed worries about their first performance. Julia Murphy ’23 said, “I was nervous about the concert, because this was my first performance in Concert Choir, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.”

Everyone was excited to perform this year. Bass Two Section Leader Sam Brock ’21 explained, “This judgment-free, growth-intensive atmosphere gives the choir a strong feeling of unity, and allows us to really challenge and apply ourselves to our music.“ He continued, “My mindset has changed - I’ve come to understand that being confident in myself is what truly lets me pursue what I want. This isn’t just my journey - Hopkins music has given many of my peers a new belief in themselves and their abilities that has boosted them to amazing heights.” Murphy noted, “The best thing about Concert Choir is that we all come in from our various classes focused on singing and we all get the chance to push all of our academic stress aside. It’s also a fun place to connect with people in different grades with whom you wouldn’t normally get the chance to talk.”

The mentors and students have both agreed that some of the pieces were harder than others however they were especially excited for the pieces that included both the orchestra and the Concert Choir. Schroth explained,” The students were very excited for a piece that involved both the Concert Choir and full orchestra, a piece called, ‘Sogno di Volare’ by Christopher Tin (featured in the video game Civilization VI - that’s a first for us!).” Murphy emphasized, “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to perform music with such amazing instrumentalists.” Cassin exclaimed, “I love Sogno Di Volare because it is a gorgeous and dramatic piece that we have worked hard on, plus we did it in collaboration with the orchestra. The music itself is beautiful but getting to perform it with such a talented group was an enormous privilege.”

The concert fulfilled its theme of “musical drama and raw emotion,” that showcases the talents and hard work of so many Hopkins students. Wang said, “The orchestra is like one big family, and going on this journey of performing great music together is super enjoyable. I appreciate that everyone is so supportive and willing to help each other grow.”
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