On December fourth, the Orcas High School band, strings, and student orchestra held their annual winter performance at the Orcas Center. The concert featured songs from each of the three high school music groups, as well as numerous solos showcasing some of the individual talent the Orcas High School music program has to offer. The student musicians had been working hard on perfecting their holiday pieces weeks in advance, and the performance day was extremely rewarding for all participants.
The band performed its pieces first, kicking off the concert with three lively and festive songs. The first, “A Calypso Christmas,” featuring tunes like “Feliz Navidad,” “Brazillian Sleighbells,” and a jazzy rendition of “Silver Bells,” brought some Latin flavor to the holidays as well as created an upbeat atmosphere. “Santa at the Symphony” was played next. The song created the perfect blend between traditional holiday tunes with popular classical music. Band Director Darren Dix was excited to unveil his finale piece, “Stars and Stripes for Christmas.” The piece “incorporates holiday tunes into the popular melodies and structure of Sousa’s most well known march,” Dix relayed.
Band members did a wonderful job and got the concert off to a good start. Percussionist Jo Gudgell was pleased with the performance, and is excited to keep playing and improving. “I think that band performances really bring us together as a unit and I think that we are steadily improving with each event,” she said after the concert. Aside from their musical performance, band members were also excited to reveal their new uniforms! The uniforms, which had arrived just one week in advance to the concert, gave the High School Band the appearance of a professional ensemble and provided them with the confidence they needed to get up on stage as the first performers.
The Orcas Youth Orchestra (OYO) performed its pieces next. The Youth Orchestra is comprised of members from both the highs school band and strings ensembles. OYO played four songs, two directed by band director Darren Dix and two by strings director Pamela Wright. Dix’s first piece was “Santa’s Classical Christmas,” which meshed traditional holiday songs with classical music. The next song was “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” a compilation of tunes from the movie that also contained multiple solos! Audience members recognized the songs immediately and some of the younger listeners were so excited they started dancing in the back of the auditorium. Wright’s first piece was the famous “Messiah’s Hallelujah Chorus.” This was followed by the “Winter Wizards,” which is a beautiful piece performed by the Trans Siberian Orchestra. Band and strings instrumentalists are always excited to combine for a few pieces, even if it means extra work. This enthusiasm showed and caught the audience’s attention as the entire auditorium was enveloped in music.
The High School Strings ensemble played its songs last and created a splendid closing to this year’s holiday concert. The first song the performed was Bach’s “Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor.” This well-known classic was a hit with the audience, as well as being some of the strings instrumentalists’ favorite piece to play. Next, the ensemble played a beautiful arrangement of “Greensleeves,” followed by “A Mad Russian’s Christmas.” The audience was thrilled and raved about how all the songs were perfectly executed. “I was really happy with the performance,” explained cellist Anthony Kaskurs, “I think our work paid off and the outcome was good.”
All in all, the concert was a huge success. The community was impressed by the large exhibition of talent, and of all the effort that Orcas High School musicians put into their work. “It was beautiful,” one audience member gushed, “they have all come so far and their work really pays off at each event.”