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WHRHS Winter Instrumental and Choral Music Concerts Set for Dec. 14 and 16

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Credits: B. Nemcek
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WARREN, NJ  – The annual Winter Instrumental Concert, featuring performances by student musicians, and the annual Winter Choral Concert, featuring performances by student singers, will be held at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 14, and Friday, Dec. 16, respectfully, at Watchung Hills Regional High School.

The general public is invited to join students, and their parents, families and friends, at their concerts in the school’s Performing Arts Center.

The Choral Concert will be held at the same time as Juan Carlos Cruz Night and the Men’s Varsity Basketball Game versus Bridgewater-Raritan High School, which will be held in Gym 5/6. Some of the singers who will perform at the concert are expected to lead the “Star Spangled Banner,” and sing the song, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You,” in Gym 5/6, before then walking to the Performing Arts Center to begin the Choral Concert.

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The Instrumental Concert will be conducted under the baton of Paul McCullen, Director of Bands and Orchestra, and the Choral Concert will be conducted by Angela DiIorio Bird, Director of Choral Music.

The concerts promise to be entertaining and enriching to their audiences, while at the same time be opportunities for the student musicians and singers to stretch their knowledge of both music and culture, and to exercise their experience of performing as a collective musical team to a concert hall-sized audience, according to McCullen and DiIorio Bird.

McCullen and DiIorio Bird also want to invite the public to mark their new 2017 calendars: The WHRHS Spring Choral Concert, which will be held on June 7 and the WHRHS Spring Instrumental Concert, which will be held on June 6.

The Winter Instrumental Concert Program

The program of pieces expected to be presented at the Instrumental Concert are:

By the Concert Band: “Festive Sounds of Hanukah,” arranger by Bill Holcombe; “Folk Songs from the Eastern Counties,” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, arrangement D. Wagner; “Suite from Bohemia: Procession to the Castle, Folk Tale, Round Dance, Tournament, by Vaclav Nelhybel:  “Suo Gan,” a Welch Fold Song, arrangement by Larry Clark; “Holly and the Ivy,” a British Folk Carol, arrangement by Tom Wallace; and “Toccata for Band,” by Frank Erickson;

By The Wind Ensemble: “First Suite in Eb for Military Band Op.28, No.1,” Chaconne,  Intermezzo,  March, by Gustav Holst; “Sleepers Wake,” by J.S. Bach, arrangement by Mark Williams; “Pageant,” by Vincent Persichetti; “Sussex Mummers’ Carol,” by Percy Grainger; and “Variants on a Medieval Tune,” Theme, Var. I - II – V, by Norman Dello Joio;

By the Orchestra: “Carol of the Bells,” by Mykola Leontovych, arrangement by Micheal Hopkins; Brandenburg Concerto No.3,  Movement I,” by J.S. Bach, arrangement by Merle Isaac;  “Concerto grosso in G minor, Op.6, No.8,” Allegro, Adagio, by Arcangelo Corelli; “Winter” from The Four Seasons,” by Antonio Vivaldi.

There will be a performance by a Soloist: “Siberian Sleigh Ride,” by Paul O’Neill, arrangement by Bob Phillips;

The Wind Ensemble will conclude the concert with three numbers: “Kaddish,” by W.F. McBeth; “Russian Christmas Music,” by Alfred Reed; and “Sleigh Ride,” by Leroy Anderson.

Program Notes

“One of the hardest challenges for any director is concert programming,” said Maestro McCullen. “The questions are endless and uncertainty abounds. What is the ensemble capable of playing? Have we played it before? What educational purpose does it serve? Will the students like it, or more importantly will the audience like it? A college professor once told me that concert programming should have the same effect as a well-designed dinner. An appetizer, salad or soup, several courses (complimenting and building in intensity), and then dessert (unless you are me and sneak one in as your appetizer). Of course with the belief that all of the music programmed satisfies the musicians and audience equally, making sure to avoid a food coma.”

About the menu for this year’s Winter Instrumental Concert, McCullen said: “We’ve looked to balance the program in a way that there is something for everyone. From Holst, to arrangers such as Tom Wallace, we are presenting some of the best from the then and now in the genre of wind band music. Perhaps you’ve even played some of these pieces yourself, a long time ago in a band room far far away. Holst, Vaughan Williams, Persichetti, Reed, McBeth are the Bach, Beethoven, Mahler of this genre that should be celebrated and performed more often than they are.”

“The Orchestra this evening represents something “completely different,” he said, “the serious and cheeky. Bach, Corelli, and Vivaldi represent three composers from one period in music history -- The Baroque Period -- yet all three approach string orchestra differently. As a clarinetist I’m often lost with music of this period; the clarinet would not be invented until the latter half of the Classical Period, some 75 years yet to come. This is an appreciation and exploration into music I rarely get to perform, and paired with a lot of dessert.  I’ll let the performance speak for itself! So… Sit back. Listen and Bon Appetit!”

The Winter Choral Concert Program

The Winter Choral Concert, which will be performed “in loving memory of Soccer Coach Senor Juan Carlos Cruz,” will include the following songs and spoken comments:

Opening remarks by Jordon Reynolds and Anthony Speros, followed by Select Vocal Ensembles and Senor Cruz’s fellow students singing “The Star Spangled Banner,” arranged by James McKelvy, and “The Lord Bless You and Keep You,” by Peter C. Lutkin.

The Chorus will sing: “Durme Durme,” “Sleep, sleep mother’s little boy, free from worry and pain/ Listen (with) joy to your mother’s words, the words of Sh’ma Yisrael/ Sleep, sleep mother’s little boy, with the beauty of the (words of) Sh’ma Yisrael,” a Sephardic Folk Song, arrangement by Audrey Snyder;

“That’s What Friends are For,” words and music by Bacharach and Sager, arrangement by Alan Billingsley, with accompaniment by Anthony Speros playing Harmonica,  Andrew Morrison playing Soprano Saxophone, and Benjamin Kosakowski playing guitar;

“You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch,” from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” music by Albert Hague, lyrics by Dr. Seuss, arrangement by Jeff Funk, accompanied by soloists, Benjamin Kosakowski on Baritone Saxophone, Anthony Speros on Guitar, and Matt Renzo on Percussion; and

“Fix You,” words and music by Berryman, Buckland, Champion and Chris Martin of “Coldplay.”

The Advanced Chorus will sing: “Silence,” written for the 2011 New Jersey Region II Chorus, by Mark A. Boyle; “Zadook the Priest,” by G.F. Handel, accompanied Ryan Branco and Carl Peterson on Trumpets;

“Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy” from “The Nutcracker Suite,” music by Peter Tchaikovsky, arrangement by Jeff Funk, accompanied by WHRHS Student Dancers, Brianna Casas, Emma Kotar, Abigail Kotar, Michelle Shui and Kostandena Vayas, choreography by WHRHS Teacher Annanda Carmody;

“Let It Be,” recorded by “The Beatles,”  words and music by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, arrangement by Mark Brymer; “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” by Frank Loesser, arrangement by Kirby Shaw, accompanied by Lindsey Shi on Flute; “Auld Lang Syne,” by Robert Burns, WHRHS Alumni are invited to join the Advanced Choir on stage.

Various singing ensembles will also perform:

“Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day,” arrangement by John Rutter; “That’s Christmas to Me,” recorded by “Pentatonix,” words and music by Hoying and Olusola, arrangement by Brymer;  “Glow,” by Eric Whitacre; “FunMedley,”  featured in the NBC television series, “The Sing-Off,” arrangement by Deke Sharon; “Eatnemen Vuelie (Song of the Earth),” by Frode Fjellheim, arrangement by Emily Crocker;

“Frozen Heart,” from Disney’s animated blockbuster feature, “Frozen,” music and lyrics by Anderson-Lopez and Lopez, arrangement by Mark Brymer, “Briefcase Full of Blues (A Tribute to The Blues Brothers),” arrangement by Alan Billingsley, accompanied by Andrew Morrison on Saxophone, Matt Renzo on Percussion, and with Choreography by Annanda Carmody

The Combined Chorus will conclude the concert, singing: “Man in the Mirror,” words and music by Ballard and Garrett, recorded by Michael Jackson, arranged by Ed Lojeski; and “Disney Movie Magic (A Choral Medley),” arranged by Mac Huff

There will also be senior solo performances sprinkled into the program. Solos will be determined closer to the concert date.

“As Maestro McCullen said about the Instrumental Concert, the Choral Concert will offer a broad array of musical expressions, from the solemn to the lighthearted, some special to the holidays, many timeless literature, with acknowledgement to the tastes of the student musicians as well as their audience of all ages,” Maestro DiIorio Bird said. “Some of the selections are those the students approached from having been intimately familiar with them since childhood and/or from listening to their favorite listening devices. Now they have learned to sing them themselves and have deciphered their “music” language in the process. They may have sung them at ‘Mommy and Me’ classes, or with grandparents during visits, or at bedtime before lights out. Others are new to them, stretches to their musical, cultural and language arts education, and as a result they have grown as singers, as students, as people.  They will continue to grow through the rest of the year, in anticipation of the Spring Choral Concert in June. There will also be other musical performance opportunities, including during a school music learning trip to Disney World, and performances in the school musical and various school sponsored cabarets. But for now, if I may translate Maestro McCullen’s comment to Italian, ‘Sit back. Listen. Buon Appetito.’”

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