PHS Bands make it snow with their Winter Concert

Dylan White , Reporter

The full assortment of PHS bands exploded with a plethora of festive music in combination with other classical, wintry pieces on Dec. 12. All three bands performed both seasonal pieces and lone-standing pieces, creating a dynamic and laudable performance.

The Concert Band began the evening by greeting the arriving audience members with classic carols before the start of the concert, quickly setting the mood for a night of seasonal cheer.

The group of freshman Concert Band members were conducted by senior student intern and drum major Ashley Shepherd. The symphonic band begun with Overture for Winds by Charles Carter, a very dynamic and moderate paced piece. While not written specifically with elements of winter or the holiday season in mind, Overture for Winds has elements of grandeur and sections playing off of each other in a light and exciting manner that still helps create an atmosphere of seasonal festivity.

The Symphonic Band followed it up with In The Bleak Midwinter written by Gustav Holst and arranged by Robert W. Smith, featuring a more somber tone and solos from the clarinet section, french horn section, and baritone section. This piece had a very elegant start, with a simple climax and restatement of the solos that creates a sound very reminiscent of the piece’s namesake.

The symphonic band finished it up with Christmas at the Movies arranged by John moss. This final piece was a very lighthearted and enjoyable way to end the Symphonic performance, featuring scores from movies such as The Polar Express, Home Alone, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. The piece rounded out a combination of simple festivity and seasonal tones very well to conclude the symphonic performance.

In between the Symphonic and Wind Symphony performances, senior student intern Jeremiah De La Peña conducted a group of freshman Concert Band percussionists. These percussionists did an excellent job weaving several different festive classics together to create two dynamic pieces using only percussion instruments.

The Wind Symphony took the stage, beginning with Toboggan Ride by Stan Applebaum. The piece begins at a very quick pace almost sounding climactic in the opening. As the piece goes on, it is easy to picture a winter’s day full of common activities such as building snow men, having snowball fights, and of course tobogganing. Toboggan Ride has a very extensive range of mood, sometimes sounding almost calming while still being fast-paced, and very climactic moments that if heard separately could sound very tense and stressful. When all these segments coalesce, they create a very wintry story within the mind of the audience.

The Wind Symphony proceeded with Puszta by Jan Van der Roost, a four-movement piece full of very grandiose, rich sound, also not written as an intentionally festive piece. The first movement begins more slowly, but almost immediately brings an intensity with a tempo that remains constant throughout the rest of the movement. The sounds of all the sections are woven together and nuanced in such a way that create images of a gallant pageant.

The second movement is much more gradual and creates imagery inspiring of the magic many people feel throughout the holiday season, such as a fresh snowfall on Christmas morning or seeing the town lit up with lights and decorations. The third movement returns to a fast pace but at a much softer tone, gently coming to crescendo and then pouring all in. The sound is very intriguing in the constant rise and fall of the energy and mood.

The fourth piece follows suit with a soft beginning and soft transition into the heavily paced rhythm. The fourth movement is even more full of climaxes and respites following each other in a varied pattern that shows is truly amazing to see the skill required and put forth to play. Even with such a rigorous piece, the band was still very confident.

Head Band Director Carlos Esquivel commented, “Once we got away from all the basic things like the notes and the rhythms and the students felt a lot more comfortable with them, that’s when we were finally able to take the music to the next level.”

The final wind symphony and concert piece begins with an invitation from Director Esquivel to sing along, being Christmas “Pop” Sing-A-Long arranged by James D. Ployhar. The piece featured Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Silver Bells, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. The final piece gave a very strong albeit slightly cliched ending to a concert that was put together with very much emotion and passion.

The several bands managed to tell stories with their sound, and created a very memorable experience. It was a wonderful spectacle of musical ability.
Senior Drum Major Colin White said about his thoughts on their performance, “All the band members and directors felt very confident in our ability to play the pieces and the sound we produced. I think everyone was happy with how we performed.”

The concert was an incredible show of the talent and skill in the PHS music department, and left the audience with an incredible feeling of holiday spirit and warmth.