Education

Music in Warren: WHRHS Delivers Peace, Love, Happiness and Joy

61f2fc28554c189732b2_image.jpeg
Music in Warren: WHRHS Delivers Peace, Love, Happiness and Joy Credits: WHRHS
61f2fc28554c189732b2_image.jpeg

WARREN, NJ – Hundreds of instrumental music students at Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) filled the stage at the school’s Performing Arts Center (PAC), Wednesday, Dec. 16, for the annual Instrumental Winter Concert, and hundreds more choral music students filled the stage of an equally filled PAC two nights later, on Friday, Dec. 18, for the annual Winter Vocal Concert.

At the Instrumental Concert, family, friends, students, teachers, Board of Education members and the general public filled the orchestra and balcony seats at the PAC to hear 11 compositions. Some of the compositions were familiar and all-time seasonal favorites. Others showed student mastery of exploratory and intriguing new music. They heard performances by a 32-member string orchestra, a 38-member concert band, a 60-member wind ensemble and a symphonic band that included student musicians from the “smaller” groups.

Instrumental Music Conductor is Minesh Shah. Vocal Music Conductor is Angela DiIorio Bird.

Sign Up for E-News

Two nights later as a preliminary song to begin the Vocal Concert, singers lined the aisles and others were on the stage in the PAC, as the house lights were lowered. Singers bore hand-held faux candle lights, as faculty and students read statements of purpose. They declared that the organizing theme of the concert was intended to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season:  Peace, love, happiness, and joy.

The singers then launched into a dramatic and touching rendition of “This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Make It Shine,” the familiar Gospel children’s song with lyrics by Avis Burgeson Christiansen and melody by Harry Dixon Loes.

The vocal concert that followed included two songs performed by the 108-member Chorus, four songs performed by the 122-member Advanced Chorus, five songs performed by various smaller-sized ensembles of singers, two songs performed by senior soloists, and three songs performed by the combined chorus that included singers from both the Chorus and Advanced Chorus.

By the end of each concert, the “Symphony Band” and the “Combined Chorus,” respectively, filled every corner of the wide and deep PAC stage, and the audiences at both concerts gave the students and their directors, Shah and DiIorio Bird, rousing ovations.

At the instrumental concert, some of the ambitious new pieces included two performed by the Concert band, “Snakes” by composer Thomas C. Duffy, and “A Zillion Nickels,” by composer Samuel Hazo.

The String Orchestra opened the concert with the dramatic and haunting theme from the popular Netflix series, “House of Cards,” by Jeff Beal. The orchestra then explored three excerpts from the timeless seasonal classic, “The Nutcracker,” by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The String Orchestra concluded its performance with a contemporary piece with classic themes, “And The Mountains Echoed: Gloria,” by Robert Longfield, who is an award-winning band and orchestra director at Miami Palmetto Senior High School, Miami, Fla.

Later, the Wind Ensemble performed: “Variations on a Korean Folk Song,” by John Barnes Chance; “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus,” by Robert W. Smith; and “Arabesque,” by Samuel Hazo.

The Symphonic Band, including musicians from the concert band and wind ensemble, performed: “Centaph Composed,” by Jack Stamp; “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” by Johan Sebastian Bach; and “A Christmas Festival,” by Leroy Anderson.

During the musical presentation of “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus,” Choral Director DiIorio Bird read the letter written in 1897 by Virginia O’Hanlon (1889-1971) of New York City to the editor of the New York Sun newspaper, wondering if there really is a Santa Claus. DiIorio Bird’s husband, WHRHS Science Teacher Carl Bird, presented the newspaper’s response, an editorial written by editor Francis Parcellus Church. The editorial first appeared in the New York Sun on Sept. 21, 1897. The iconic phrase, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” comes from the editorial, which is thought to be the most reprinted newspaper editorial in the world. The legend also formed the basis for the classic 1947 film, “Miracle on 34th Street,” and numerous other iterations of the legend in movies, plays, musical compositions, not to mention the iconic store windows at Macy’s Department Store on 34th Street during the Christmas Season.

“The instrumental concert selections provided students with significant learning opportunities for budding musicians,” said Shah. “The compositions provided opportunities for everyone to make significant contributions to the whole piece. Among the notable performances were percussion elements that were bold and varied.  Not only did they keep time, they created percussive music. Plus, we performed some seasonal favorites, including Tchaikovsky, Bach and Anderson.”

Vocal Concert

Following the dramatic preliminary performance of “This Little Light Of Mine,” the Chorus sang, “Gabi Gabi,” a South African praise song, arranged by William C. Powell; and “Ose Shalom (The One Who Makes Peace),” a traditional Hebrew piece with music by John Leavitt.

Senior Lauren Duffy sang “I Hope You Dance,” by Lee Ann Womack, which was a hit in 2000. Duffy said the song was a favorite of her Dad. She sang accompanied by recorded music for the song that was faithful to the performance by Womack.

The Advanced Chorus sang: “Betelehemu,” A Nigerian Christmas Song, by Via Olatunji and Wendell Whalum; “Cantique Noel (O Holy Night)” by Adolphe Adam; “Auld Lang Syne,” with an arrangement by James Gossler; and “Glory,” by John Legend and Common, from the 2014 movie, “Selma.” The song was accompanied by a slide show of photos from the movie and historic news footage from the 1960s Civil Rights “March to Selma.” Students updated the presentation, by adding solo parts in Rap style.

Senior Soloist Anna Paterson, and her younger sister, Katherine Paterson, both members of the Advanced Chorus, sang “Some Things Are Meant To Be.” The song is from the 2005 Broadway musical, “Little Women.” In the musical, the song is sung by the fictional sisters, Beth and Jo March, characters from the novel, “Little Women,” the most famous novel written by American writer Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888).

Five ensembles of a variety of sizes and configurations of soloists and choruses, performed the following songs: “Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy,” with music by Milton Ager and Harold Arlen, and arrangement by Philip Kern. The songs were sung most famously by Judy Garland (1922-1969) and Barbra Streisand. They also performed: “Grown-Up Christmas List,” words and music by David Foster and Linda Thompson-Jenner; the 2014 composition, “Text Me Merry Christmas,” by David Javerbaum and Adam Schlesinger, originally performed by Kristen Bell and the band, “Straight No Chaser;” “The Boars Head Carol,” a traditional Christmas Carol; and “White Christmas,” by Irving Berlin, arranged by Audrey Snyder. It is an arrangement reminiscent of the style of the African-American Jazz vocal group, The Mills Brothers (1928-1982).

The concert concluded with combined choirs filling the stage, to sing: “What The World Needs Now Is Love,” by Hal David and Burt Bacharach; “Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town,” by Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots, arranged by Jay Althouse; and the finale,  “We Are The World 25 for Haiti,” by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie.

The finale included a video showing Advanced Chorus Member Laura Silva teaching elementary school students in Haiti the refrain of the iconic 1985 song, “We Are The World.” In the video, the Haitian students provide an enthusiastic performance. As is a tradition at the WHRHS winter and spring vocal concerts, local middle school chorus members and WHRHS chorus alumni in the audience were invited to come up on stage, and audience members were invited to participate, too, to help close the show.

Radio Show Victory

The same arrangement of “Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town” was used most famously by New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band, a hit that receives heavy national radio play every Christmas Season. A special ensemble of WHRHS choral music student performed this song this year for the Christmas Choir Music Contest organized by radio station, New Jersey 101.5. For that performance, WHRHS won the contest’s High School Division.

The winner was announced over the air on Monday, Dec. 21, three days after the Winter Vocal Concert. The contest was a seasonal feature of the radio station’s mid-day program, the “Dennis and Judi” Show. Choruses of the schools that entered the contest, including Watchung Hills, each sang their song, one per day. As with the schools that won the two other school divisions, Franklin School, Westfield, in the Elementary School Division, and Marlboro Middle School, Marlboro Township, in the Middle School Division, WHRHS won a prize of $1,000.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Warren

WHSA TOPSoccer Registration Is Now Open

February 21, 2018

WARREN, NJ - Watchung Hills Soccer Association (WHSA) TOPSoccer registration is now open.

WHSA is excited to announce that the program will be free of charge this season. The season is scheduled to begin on Saturday, April 28. To register as a player, visit www.whsa.org and click on the “Log In” tab and then follow the registration steps.

TOPSoccer is a ...

A Celebration of Black History- Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future in North Plainfield

Councilwoman Keiona R. Miller will host the 2nd Annual North Plainfield Community Black History Month Event: ‘A Celebration of Black History.’

KEYNOTE SPEAKER:  The Honorable Ronald L.  Rice, New Jersey State Senator and Chair of the New Jersey State Legislative Black Caucus.

SPECIAL ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_2e2e4830042112095f66_94f09724857a937db1ac_d6404e0a-7afd-4279-b56f-19b0f9b2138c

Sun, February 25, 10:00 AM

Camp Riverbend, Warren

Camp Riverbend Open House

Mon, March 5, 7:00 PM

BRHS Auditorium, Bridgewater

Dangers of Fentanyl

Education Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_fa4fe163698ac5321450_warren_summer_pic

Sat, March 10, 3:00 PM

Spring Academy Warren, Warren

Spring Academy Warren Camp Open House

Education

Obituaries

South Plainfield – Joanne Gallo, 68, of Palm Beach Gardens, FL and Warren, NJ, passed away ...
Read more

Low-Income Families Who Need Safe Cribs Have Nowhere to Go

February 16, 2018

One recent email came from a pastor in East Orange, sharing the struggles of a young couple who have no safe place for their baby to sleep.

Then, there was also a phone call from a Newark hospital, making its fourth request in two years, as well as a frantic text from Puerto Rico, for a family who lost everything in the hurricane.

They all pleaded for the same thing: A safe crib for a ...

WHRHS Girls Basketball: Watchung Hills Tops East Orange, 44-40

February 12, 2018

EAST ORANGE, NJ - Julia Cunningham recorded a double-double for Watchung Hills with 21 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block to lead the Watchung Hills girls basketball team over East Orange on Monday, 44-40. 

Jayden Baltuch finished with seven points, four assists and one rebound. 

Watchung Hills is now 19-1 on the season and next plays at Newark ...

WHRHS Boys Basketball: Watchung Hills Routs Somerville, 82-54

WARREN, NJ -  Six Warriors scored in the double digits to lead the Watchung Hills boys basketball game over Somerville on Saturday, 82-54.

Mike Hopwood led Watchung Hills with 17 points, Dan Pilsbury added 14 points and eight rebounds, Steven Bressler sunk 15 points, Gavin DeFuria added 13 points, Micheal Bressler got 11 points and 10 assists and Chad Martini chipped in 10 points and ...

Watchung Appoints New Council Member

February 21, 2018

WATCHUNG, NJ - The Watchung Borough Town Council appointed Maria Alberto to fill the unexpired portion of Debra Joren’s term at the last meeting. The term expires at the end of 2018.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2ReYfGuwPE

Joren retired earlier this year and due to the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) was required to resign from any public office within six ...

Somerville Merchants Endorse Plan to Reduce Parking Lot Fees

SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Borough’s controversial parking fees are set to undergo another revision, with hourly parking reduced from 75 to 50 cents in municipal lots 1,2,4 and 6, according to a merchant-driven plan endorsed by Mayor Ellen Brain.

The $1 hourly rate for parking on Main Street will remain the same, according to the mayor.

The hours of enforcement will also be changed to ...

Somerset County Preparing for Construction of Finderne Avenue Bridge, Beginning Feb. 20

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Finderne Avenue bridge, between Union Avenue and Foothill Road, will be under construction from Feb. 20 for about nine months, according to a release from Somerset County.

The bridge will be constructed in three separate stages, with one lane northbound and one lane southbound being maintained, aside from intermittent single-day closures as required. In addition, ...

Bernards Police Locate Body of Missing Township Teen

BERNARDS TWP., NJ -  Bernards Township Police announced late Thursday afternoon that the body of a 19-year-old township resident, Lydia Comtois, had been located in a wooded area of Liberty Corner following a search by personnel and volunteers from numerous public safety organizations. 

A preliminary investigation indicated the young woman's death was not deemed to ...

From the New York Toy Fair - Travels Reveals the Toys That Will Make You the Star of Your Child’s Life - the Oscars of the Toy World - the TOTY Awards

February 19, 2018

 As you know, we are here to encourage you to travel.  Unfortunately, the New York Toy Fair is one place virtually none of you can go.  So, unless you have been tirelessly been searching the internet, you are not up to date on what toys your children will be wanting soon.

Fortunately, with Press Correspondent credentials, we were able to go in your place.

Our ...

Coast Guard Ends Search for Fishermen Lost at Sea, Fund Established to Help Family

The U.S. Coast Guard has officially ended its search for the two crew members of the fishing boat that went missing off the coast of Barnegat Light during the early morning hours of February 8.  

“We would like to extend our condolences to the families and the fishing community affected by this tragic incident,” said Capt. Scott Anderson, commander of the Coast Guard's ...

Looking for Something to Do? Weekend Events in Somerset County

Things to do in Somerset County

A weekend celebrating Warmer Days!

1. Winter Market, Duke Farms

2. The Mountaintop, Theatre at RVCC - Friday featuring the Peking Acrobats.

3. State Theatre New Jersey - nothing scheduled this weekend - next show Feb 22 

4. Heritage Trail Association - Five Generals House Bus Tour - ...

Coast Guard Ends Search for Fishermen Lost at Sea, Fund Established to Help Family

February 18, 2018

The U.S. Coast Guard has officially ended its search for the two crew members of the fishing boat that went missing off the coast of Barnegat Light during the early morning hours of February 8.  

“We would like to extend our condolences to the families and the fishing community affected by this tragic incident,” said Capt. Scott Anderson, commander of the Coast Guard's ...

Third Annual Long Beach Island Job Fair Set for Saturday, March 31

SURF CITY, NJ - Need a job this summer? Look no further. Shore Fire Grille again has teamed up with local businesses in the area for a special summer 2018 Job Fair event. 

The Third Annual LBI Job Fair will take place Saturday, March 31.  Employers will be looking to hire help for the summer season on busy Long Beach Island.  The event will be held at the Surf City Yacht ...

Guest Column: The Great "Wait" of the College Process

February 14, 2018

"The Great Wait" of the College Application Process

For all the high school seniors and their parents, we are in the stressful "waiting period".  We've just finished or are finishing applications to all the schools we might possibly want to attend next year and now sit and wait our fate after the $60-$80 non-refundable application fees to at least 8-13 schools and ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...