The holidays are near, and it is time to sing the carols and play musical pieces. For members of the Hopkins community, the holidays kicked off with the annual Winter Concert.
This year, the concert took place on Tuesday, December 13, at New Haven’s Battell Chapel and featured performances from Hopkins’ Instrumental and choral groups.
Erika Schroth, Director of Choral Music, Robert Smith, Art Department Chair and Director of Instrumental Music, and Erik Elligers are in charge of organizing the concert. Schroth explained, “The concerts feature about 150 Hopkins musicians from grades 7-12 and are unique as events that involve students from the Junior, Middle, and Senior Schools.” According to Schroth, the participants’ work is “the culmination of the first half of the year” and they were “so excited…to share the music they have been working on this semester!” The variety of Hopkins music ensembles “[performed] a broad range of music, old and new, fast and slow, from a diverse group of composers, in a multitude of styles,” Schroth said.
Students commented on the difficulty of preparing for the concert. Jacqueline Hsiao ’23 said, “The hardest part would be memorizing all of our music and getting notes, lyrics, and tone/intonation right.” Amanda Wang ’23 explained that the concert is “a giant operation of making sure we have time to play all of the music, especially because we have additional choirs besides Concert Choir, like Jazz Choir and Treble Choir” and they have “also got chamber groups who play quartets.” Abigail Grauer Kruger ’23 added, “Each teacher chooses what would best fit the needs and goals of their class for the term. Concert Choir in particular always tries to include music of different backgrounds, from video-game soundtracks to Indonesian folk songs.” However, Schroth said, “The students have shown themselves to be ready for lots of musical, technical, and artistic challenges in the programmed repertoire.”
This year’s concert took place in Battell Chapel, Yale University’s largest chapel. Built from 1874 to 1876, the chapel was part of a program, along with Durfee Hall and Farnam Hall, that started in the 1870s to increase the perimeter of Yale’s old campus and make it separate from New Haven. It is a masonry structure of New Jersey Brownstone, there are decorative elements which are made of blue Ohio sandstone, and the ceiling is supported by wooden beams and has a painted gold leaf on it. Kruger ’23 noted that Battell is “a beautiful venue with fantastic acoustics.” Wang agreed, noting that the chapel is “a super iconic place [whose] aesthetic definitely adds to the performance atmosphere.”
Students participating in the Winter Concert were upbeat and very excited about the event, especially seniors, who haven’t had a full, traditional concert since before the pandemic. Safety procedures concerning COVID-19 have prevented people from gathering for events such as the Winter Concert. Prior to the performance, Hsiao was “very excited for the Winter Concert! It’s one of the things I’m looking forward to the most this year.” Hsiao added, “It’ll definitely be memorable and kind of nostalgic to start and end my Winter Concert career in the same place.” Wang also expressed her excitement for the concert: “I’m certain that returning back to our original venue will be wonderful, especially for the seniors who haven’t performed there since the pandemic.” Amelia Clark ’24 believed that “the band, orchestra, and choir concerts will be an awesome way to send everyone off to winter break with some amazing music and performances!” Ms. Schroth anticipated the concert, saying, “We hope that all will join us as we bring some holiday/winter cheer to the final week of classes before winter break.”