SOUTH PLAINFIELD, Nj - The South Plainfield Middle School Spring Concert showcased the talents of students in the Music Program on the evening of May 17th as the Chorus, Orchestra and Band brought exuberant energy to the performance.
After the chorus sang the “Star Spangled Banner,” filling patriotic hearts will pride, the evening started with a bang as the 8th Grade Percussion Ensemble played Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” on xylophones with drum accompaniment.
“Our band is very fortunate to have very talented percussion musicians,” said Andrew Veiss, Band Director. “‘Crazy Train’ was selected to build some interest in playing mallet instruments, which many percussionists are reluctant try.”
The percussion ensemble then brought out seven garbage cans. Turning them upside down, they mesmerized the audience with their performance of “Fresh Trash.” As the rhythmic sound of the song echoed through the auditorium, the students used their drumsticks to play the cans on either side of them creating a fevered energy.
“We performed ‘Fresh Trash’ about two or three years ago with some trash cans donated from the Home Depot and our crew wanted to do it again,” added Veiss. “Our percussion ensemble also just received an award for the best overall instrumental ensemble at the Dorney Park Festival.”
The Concert Choir followed the percussion ensemble’s performance, featuring soloists Mary O’Dell, Alyssa Rivera, and Joel Arias with Emily Wong on flute. Among their selections, they played a medley of songs from “Beauty and the Beast.” Their voices danced up and down the scales as the magic of the music from the classic feature film filled the air. They also treated the audience to a throw back to the 1950s with “We Go Together.”
“The Middle School concert was great,” said Dr. Donna Kregler, Director of Choral Activities. “The kids really improved since September and it shows in their performance. They worked hard on their breathing, vowels sounds, phrasing, and expression.”
The 7th Grade Orchestra began with the tango, the Latin American ballroom dance pulsing through the auditorium. They also played Adele Adkins’ popular hit “Rolling in the Deep,” joined by Domonique Sharpe on piano.
“In the orchestra we have a great range of talents,” said Sarah Livecchi, Orchestra Director. “Some students were beginners this year while others have been playing for six years. That fact that everyone was able to contribute and put together an amazing performance is noteworthy!”
The 7th Grade Concert Band then began with “Rythmos,” featuring several solos and highlighting the precision of the students’ musical skills. The students also played the classic march for drill teams, John Philip Sousa’s “High School Cadets March.” Performance soloists included: Yash Jacob, Naila Qualls, Kelsie Neidenbach, Madelynn Pfeiffer, Emily Veliz, Jonathan Checkley, Nayellis Chicas, Georgia Fraser, Adrianna Nazarko, Rafael Ferriera, and Denise Bui.
“The development of our ensembles has enabled for our groups to play high-quality literature,” said Band Director Andrew Veiss. “From complex harmonies to time changes, our students have been learning and performing these complex musical concepts with ease. It is our goal to prepare our students to be life-long musicians.”
The Middle School’s Gems Chorus performed “The Poet Songs,” by American composer Z. Randall Stroope. The students’ voices flowed through the auditorium in harmony, rising and falling with each line they sang.
“The students are all great kids,” said Kregler. “I can’t wait to see the current 8th graders return for 9th grade at the High School.”
Accompanying the Middle School Chorus and Gems was Performing Musician and Piano Teacher Paul DiDario. DiDario, studied at The Juliard School and has had a successful career that has brought him around the world to countries such as South Korea to perform and teach music. He feels most home in South Plainfield, where he and his wife, Linda, are raising their daughter, Amylin.
“I’m a towny,” said DiDario. “I was born and raised here in South Plainfield. From elementary school through high school, I went through the South Plainfield School System. I love working with the kids. It’s really wonderful to connect with them and the music program in town is very good. The teachers work very hard with the kids. They really put their heart and soul into teaching the them.”
“The quality of our ensembles is directly connected to the support of our school and our regularly scheduled band classes and lessons during the school day,” said Veiss. “We appreciate that our administration and community views music as an equal and integral part of a balanced education.”
The 8th Grade Orchestra began, playing Antonio Vivaldi’s “Allegro for Cello,” featuring Cellist James Buchanan, who performed an entire solo from memory. The orchestra then surprised the audience with a unique performance of “Remote Control,” an intricate and entertaining song enhanced by actors and singers.
“The idea of the piece is like someone flipping through the channels on a TV,” said Livecchi. “We formed a small skit group to make this idea come alive. Alyssa Rivera, Mary O’Dell and Amanda Senatore created a hilarious skit to accommodate the orchestra piece which included moments of mutes, pauses, opera and horror!”
“I was so surprised,” said Beth Delacruz, whose daughter Gillian is in 8th grade and performs in the percussion ensemble, chorus, Gems, orchestra and band. “Gillian never mentioned that they were doing this special performance tonight. They were amazing.”
“I believe all of our music students played extremely well and pulled off some difficult pieces,” said Livechhi. “I am very proud of both of the orchestras and their performances.”
Featuring soloists Jessica Saravia, Thomas O’Brien, and Nidhi Patel, the 8th Grade Band closed the last concert of the year. Among their selections, the band played the vibrant and tumultuous, “Into the Storm.” They also paid tribute to the country’s fallen heroes with “Hymn to the Fallen.”
“The concert was awesome,” said Veiss. “It was the culmination of three months of hard work. The students were focused and played with lots of passion.”
Parents and students of South Plainfield Schools can visit the S.P.H.S. Music Booster Facebook Page for more information on fundraising, upcoming events and Music Booster Parent meetings.