Music department holds annual Winter Concert

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The music department held their annual Winter Concert on Dec. 17 at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.

The Chamber Singers kicked off the concert by performing “O Magnum Mysterium” by Tomás Victoria and “Locus Iste” by Anton Bruckner unconducted.

Vocal director Alex Underwood said that learning ensemble skills like breathing together and having heightened awareness of the other parts are essential to being a strong musician, regardless of musical style or form.

“The Victoria wouldn’t have been conducted in its day,” Underwood said. “The conductor didn’t really exist until the early Baroque period, so I was hoping to simulate that experience for the students. It forces independence, and I like that.”

The Chamber Singers agreed that singing unconducted made them more aware and taught them to trust each other more.

“I think it was a good change,” senior Rebecca Anderson said. “It really shows how mature we are as a group.”

Concert Choir performed selections from Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, as well as a famous Spanish lullaby, “A La Nita Nana”, arranged by Sherri Porterfield.

One of the songs from the Ceremony of Carols, “That Yonge Child,” featured freshman soloist Ashton Koerner.

He said he felt confident in his ability to sing the song because he had practiced it so many times, but he was also nervous because he figured he would get made fun of for how high he could sing.

“I hadn’t really explored how high my voice could go on any song, so that was fairly interesting,” Koerner said. “I just look at Michael Jackson and think that people didn’t make fun of him, they praised him.”

After Concert Choir, Chamber Singers took the stage once more to perform “And the Glory of the Lord” and “He Shall Purify” from Handel’s Messiah, accompanied by Lexie Robinson on harpsichord and a string quartet of Nathan Mark, Trinity Callis, Naomi Kitzis, and Miranda Graves.

The Jazz Band performed “All In For The Blues” by Doug Beach, which featured freshman alto saxophone soloist Tayden Shuck. Sophomore Alisara Arial had a tenor saxophone solo in “It Swings Upon a Midnight Clear” by Larry Neeck.

Both these students wrote their own solos for the concert.

The Jazz Band also played “Cerulean Blue” by Gregory Yasinitsky, which featured trombone soloist senior Cori Isbell.

Isbell said that she felt super nervous, but that she’s just glad she got the solo.

“I know I’ve played better before, but it’s a live performance,” Isbell said. “Nothing ever goes perfectly. Confidence is key, though. It’ll help you recover if you mess up.”

Concert Band came next after Jazz Band, performing “Thematic Variations on Dona Nobis Pacem” by James Sudduth, “O Nata Lux” by Guy Forbes, and “Balkan Seven” by Scott Watson.

Sophomore Levi Weilert said that “O Nata Lux” was his favorite out of the Concert Band lineup.

“It’s smaller than the rest of the pieces and it sounds pretty when played right,” Weilert said.

The Orchestra was the last group to perform, and they played “Brandenburg Concerto No. 4” by Bach and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Larry Moore.

Senior violinist Alex Hagerman also had a solo in the Orchestra’s rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”

After that, Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Orchestra, and a few select band members joined together to close the concert with the traditional “Peace, Peace” and “Hallelujah” chorus.

Every year, Hays High alumni are invited to join the choirs in singing the two pieces.

This has been a tradition in the music department for decades.

Principal Martin Straub said he finds it amazing how so many students with different personalities and skill levels can come together and perform as a unified sound.

“At that point in time on stage, magic happens as it all comes together as one in performance,” Straub said.

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