SWHS Winter Band Concert 2018


Symphonic band lines up for their yearbook photo.

Jillian Thibodeau and Jacob Chaimovitch

On Wednesday, December 12th, SWHS had their Winter Band Concert for 2018 and it did not disappoint. Both groups did very well with all of their pieces under the teaching and conducting of the school’s Band Director, Mr. Verrastro. In total, fifteen percussionists, thirty-seven Wind Ensemble performers, and seventy-one Symphonic Band performers went onstage in the auditorium and showed off what they have been preparing for in the last three months since school started.

The Symphonic Band kicked off the night with their first song ‘Winter Holiday.’ This song included three catchy Christmas songs that had the audience dancing in their seats. The song started off with the group playing the well-known ‘Let it Snow,’ then they transitioned into ‘Winter Wonderland,’ and ending with ‘Frosty the Snowman.’ However, they weren’t exactly like the traditional Christmas songs you’d hear on the radio. The versions of ‘Let it Snow’ and ‘Winter Wonderland’ had more of a jazzier zone than normal, and ‘Frosty the Snowman’ sounded more like a march.  

The program continued with ‘Bashana Haba’ah,’ which is a Hebrew song that translates to ‘next year’ in English. The song was slow in speed and consisted of nice melodic parts that came out quite nicely. However, when asked which song needed to be worked on the most, Verrastro said that it was Bashana, simply because “People weren’t staying together when [the band] moved forward or backward.” Even though they weren’t together at some points during the song, it still ended up sounding good.

Symphonic Band’s final song was a hit with the audience. Called ‘Christmas at the Movies’ and included popular songs from ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas,’ ‘Home Alone,’ and ‘The Polar Express.’ Junior, Nicole Charron, an alto saxophone player in Symphonic Band, thought that they played this song the best, saying that, “Our dynamic contrast was the greatest, and we had the most energy in that piece.” In addition to the piece being played well, there were many people enjoying themselves in the audience, as most of them recognized the songs from their favorite Christmas movies. Charron mentioned that “Seeing the audience excited and children dancing during the ‘Polar Express’ made me happy, and it told me that our goal of having it appeal to the audience, was met.”

To conclude Symphonic band’s performance, Verrastro said that it was good, and that “We did a lot of the stuff that we wanted to do from rehearsal. There were little parts that went better than we’ve ever played it, and there were parts where people weren’t really listening.” Disregarding this, the concert went well for the group and Charron states “I think we did really well considering we never see each other.” Meaning that, since there are so many people in Symphonic Band, they all don’t fit into one class period, so they are spread out among two classes. The whole group, including the fifteen percussionists, rehearsed together for the first time on their dress rehearsal which was on the day before the concert. With this in consideration, the group did a great job at the concert and can only improve from here.

The Wind Ensemble went on stage immediately after Symphonic Band finished, starting with a piece called ‘Shalom!.’ It is a collection of Israeli folk songs in a 3-part movement. This was followed by a rendition of the carol Silent Night called ‘A Winter’s Night,’ which included much of the band singing the carol near the end of the piece. The third piece was a combination of several different pieces called ‘A Very Merry Heart and Soul.’ The concert was rounded out by a fast-paced Spanish Christmas carol called ‘Ríu Ríu Chíu.’ Other than a couple hiccups here and there, the four pieces came together quite well. Some performers, like junior euphonium player Allison Pagliaruli, focused on the good and bad, saying “I think we did a really great job even though we had some confusion [with percussion].” Verrastro, however, sees the positive and looks ahead to the future performances, saying that “some of what they played was some of the best they’ve played and some of it was the weirdest they’ve played…but they’ll regroup from [the mistakes they made] and come back in the spring.” 

Verrastro mentioned that Wind Ensemble is an auditioned group and when they start going to competitions in front of judges, “the stakes get higher; right off the bat every judge goes, ‘oh well then.’ So, when they [make little mistakes, the judges] crucify them”.

The pressure is certainly on for both groups come festival season, especially Symphonic Band. In the upcoming competition on May 3rd called ‘Music in the Parks’, SWHS Symphonic Band is the defending champions. Meanwhile, Wind Ensemble competes in the ‘Festivals of Music’ competition in Boston, Massachusetts from April 26th to the 28th. You can also see both groups in the Spring Concert on May 8th, 2019.