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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: 2022’s Winter Concert

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: 2022’s Winter Concert

Two of the most magical nights of the year took place on Wednesday, December 14, and Thursday, December 15, at Forest Hills High School. Our Annual Winter Concert featured our Concert Band, Advanced Percussion Ensemble, Intermediate Orchestra, Advanced, and Intermediate Band on Wednesday evening. The show that took place the next night was a bit different. Thursday’s performance started with
the combination of the Intermediate and Concert Choirs singing “Carol of the Bells,” a calm song with a steady melody. This song was sung only by the girls on stage, which warranted commentary from Mr. Koch saying  that it was “hard for the guys on stage to be quiet and look pretty for three minutes.”

…having to put [the concert] together and perform in front of people is what it’s about. To be part of a bigger ensemble, when all those pieces come together… it’s a beautiful thing.”

— Mr. Birkhold

The next section was performed by only the Concert Choir opened by switching up the tradition, singing “Deck the Nutcracker Hall,” a combination of “Deck the Halls” and “The Nutcracker,” which was said to be learned ten minutes before the concert, showing off the choir’s ability. These songs combined created a unique contrast, exceptionally pleasing to listen to. Following that piece was “A Light of Hope, A Song of Peace,” a change of pace from the previous song, which displayed the choir’s harmonization talents. Ending this section was “Winter with You,” with pianist Victoria Ilizarov. We interviewed Mayra Cruz, an alto in the choir on Tuesday, December 13. “[Performing feels] great! Being part of the choir feels good because once you’re in it, it makes you feel like you’re part of a family. Mr. Koch and Mr. King really enhanced the experience, practicing [holiday] songs with the group, makes us have an even closer bond.” Between music numbers at Thursday evening’s concert, the ushers of this concert shared a few words. Usher Arianna Baez expressed, “This show is amazing, it’s so nice to see all the talent on stage. It’s nice to listen to.”

After the choir, there was a glimpse of the Play Production’s musical, Beauty and the Beast, which will take place in the Spring. Preceding this preview, Mr. Birkhold shared that some of the guests watching the concert may have been seated by the play’s Beast, as he was also an usher for this concert. Samuel Guzman, a member of the Orchestra and the Beast in the upcoming musical, did not perform in the Play Production segment at the concert. “I am not Belle,” he joked with us, responding to why he was not performing.

As it turned out, the scene being performed was the song “Belle,” which his character was not part of. “Belle” is the second song in the Beauty of the Beast musical, after the Prologue, and this song is performed by a majority of the play’s ensemble. Belle, played by Aliya Gamboa (also in the Concert Choir), and Gaston, played by Ibrahim Kaya, were key stars featured in this snippet of the musical. Lefou, played by Eli Markey, was also a fanfavorite on stage. The short segment alone demonstrated the cast’s tremendous efforts from daily practices, which was clear in how wonderfully it came together. Our own Belle spoke of her experience, exclaiming, “I love playing the most peculiar mademoiselle!” The full performance of Beauty and the Beast will be in the auditorium from April 27- 29. Keep your calendars open!

This final section of the concert was the Jazz Band, starting with “Sonnymoon For Two.” This song is a blues with a standard
melody to begin with, but once that melody is over, any person on stage could do a solo improvisation around the blues form. Witnessing how smooth the improv flowed, it was clear that the band was incredibly skillful. A memorable moment was the performance of “Sway,” with vocalist Amalyah Bat Derek Ben Yisrael, who did an extraordinary job singing. She was able to perfectly capture the exact essence of this song. The concert closed with “Salsa Nueva,” a very catchy tune. Towards the very end, some past performers and ushers began dancing with each other in front of the stage. Their dark silhouettes against the bright lights created a genuinely beautiful image.

This concert was organized by Mr. Birkhold, our Assistant Principal of Art and Music, and Health and Physical Education. He went to school for music as that’s where his passion still lies, years later. As an Assistant Principle, he is always checking in with teachers, making sure that they have everything needed. Regarding how long our school has had the tradition of a winter concert, let’s just say it’s been long before Mr. Birkhold even began student teaching at our school. With this being a concert post-COVID, “I think [the performers] all did a fantastic job … just getting everyone back together performing, for not only themselves, but for their peers and the community. I think the school needs that, the community needs that … the world needs that,” Mr. Birkhold shared, highlighting the need for sharing music with the world, which brings us all together. As for how the students prepared for this concert, Mr. Birkhold expressed that “all of our performance classes meet one period a day, five days a week. It’s during that time that we prepare the different ensembles for their performances.” “I was super proud of every ensemble.” Mr. Birkhold continued, “I was proud of the audience; [there were] terrific audiences that were super appreciative and respectful and it made the performers that much more eager to perform, as what they’re doing is valued.” Having concerts as part of our yearly traditions is essential for musically inclined students. “It’s one thing to rehearse, singing wherever you get the best acoustics,” Mr. Birkhold said, “but actually having to put it together and perform it in front of people is what it’s about. To be part of a bigger ensemble, when all those pieces come together… It’s a beautiful thing.” Every single student who performed did an outstanding job. Fear not if you couldn’t make it, as there will be another concert in the Spring. In addition to that, our Music Department has posted a full video of Wednesday’s and Thursday’s Winter Concert performances to their YouTube channel!

Forest Hills HS Music Dept
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Ren Nebet
Ren Nebet, Head Copy Editor
Ren is a senior that joined The Beacon as a Copy Editor in 2022. They love reading and writing poetry in their spare time, and they have a strange obsession with grammar. They love that The Beacon gives them a outlet to share their writing with others. They are a member of this year’s We The People team, and they are also currently involved with this year’s Shakespeare productions of Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night's Dream, playing Portia and Egeus respectively.
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Layla enjoys taking pictures of beautiful views. She also has a big obsession with books.
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