Winter Band Concert 2019

Jillian Thibodeau and Jacob Chaimovitch

On Thursday, December 12th, Mr. Verrastro, the band director at South Windsor High School introduced the band to the audience with their first concert of the year. The concert took place in the auditorium and included the sixty-eight members in Symphonic Band, thirty-nine members in Wind Ensemble, and sixteen percussionists performing. After both groups left the stage, Verrasro had only positive things to say and that both bands were ready for competition season in the coming months.

Symphonic Band kicked off the show with their performance of O Come, All Ye Faithful which was arranged by James Swearingen. Throughout the piece, the instrumentalists impressed the audience as they played the piece beautifully by blending together and allowing the important parts to come out when needed. Since the band is made of two separate classes, many found it very impressive that they were able to come together and adjust so well to the change. Once their first song ended, Verrastro slowed it down for everyone with a song called Nativity Carol by John Rutter, which was written to be another beautiful piece that required lots of balance, but this performance did not go as planned. Although it did not sound like the perfect recording, there were still many parts of the piece that went well. Verrastro and other symphonic band members even stated that this was the best that they had ever played the piece, which was a great thing. Last but not least, Symphonic Band played Rejoice the Season! by Rob Romeyn, which included a handful of snippets from different Christmas songs. This included classics like Deck the Hall, O Christmas Tree, Jingle Bells, and many others. The group played with a lot of energy and dynamic contrast throughout the song as well as staying in tune for the majority of the piece. Overall, Symphonic Band performed very well on that Thursday night and showed Wind Ensemble along with the audience that they were not playing around. The group may not be an auditioned group, but they went beyond what was expected of them by playing so well. Symphonic Band set the expectations high as Wind Ensemble stepped onto the stage after them.

Once Wind Ensemble took to the stage to perform and try to follow up what the audience just heard, they opened up with a piece called The Eighth Candle by Steve Reisteter. With this performance, Wind Ensemble showed why they were the top band in the school. The song began with a slow melody and continued on to be a fast tempo. Their balance with each other and their ability to push and pull the tempos with Verrastro was top notch. As the only piece in the concert associated with Hanukkah in the concert, it did well to capture the spirit of the holiday. Alleluia which was arranged by Lew Buckley for the Coast Guard band followed that up. The second piece was beautiful and quite the change from the first piece, which was more upbeat and hectic. Buckley even visited the high school earlier in the year and helped Wind Ensemble with these two pieces to improve them and, according to several members of the group, Alleluia brought him to tears when he heard it for the first time. The band’s ability to mesh with each other was phenomenal, considering the work that needed to be done to sustain all the harmonies within the piece itself. After the two pieces concluded, Verrastro pulled out his Santa hat to conduct the iconic Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson. A total of seven whip cracks from percussion and all smiles from Wind Ensemble resulted in a happy and upbeat finale to a successful Winter Concert for both bands. Senior Rohan Rajagopalin’s horse whinny solo on trumpet officially capped it all off.

Overall, both groups did extremely well during their performances at the winter concert and Verrastro sure thought the same thing. When asked about Wind Ensemble, Verrastro said that they “did great [and] it sounded awesome” despite Wind thinking otherwise throughout rehearsals for the concert, and when speaking about Symphonic band he states that they “played their butts off and that was the best that they ever played… We are absolutely on a roll and ready for the spring.” All in all, the concert was a great success and Verrastro, along with the groups themselves are very proud of how they performed. Keep an eye out for what is next for both groups as they both have big competitions coming up in the spring!