The instrumental music department hosts its annual Festival Concert

Band and orchestra perform “From Britain with Love” with a feature from the Brass Ensemble


Photo by Gauri Manoj

Sophomore Abha Dash plays the flute during Symphonic Band’s performance. Symphonic Band played two pieces titled “West Highland Sojourn” and “Waltz No. 2” before intermission.

Melody Cui and Gauri Manoj

The MVHS instrumental music department hosted its yearly Festival Concert on Feb. 15 in the auditorium, featuring performances from String Orchestra, Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Symphony, Brass Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra and Philharmonic Orchestra. The concert’s theme was “From Britain With Love,” alluding to Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble’s trip to the United Kingdom this summer. 

The program began with the String Orchestra’s performance of “Dance of the Tumblers” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and “Brook Green Suite” by Gustav Holst, featuring three movements titled “Prelude,” “Air” and “Dance” that started out soothing, slowly approaching a climactic melody.

Following String Orchestra was Concert Band with its performances of “Ancient Flower” by Yukiko Nishimura and “Amparito Roca” by Jaime Texidor. 

The Symphonic Band then performed three movements of “West Highland Sojourn” by Robert Sheldon — “Stow on the Wold,” “Bradford Ballade” and “On Derwenter.” Symphonic Band concluded the first half of the show with “Waltz No. 2” by Dmitri Shostakovich. 

After the intermission, Wind Ensemble took the stage and played three contrasting pieces: “Themes from Green Bushes” by Percy Aldridge Grainer; “Sheltering Sky,” a serene piece composed by John Mackey; and “Khan,” an upbeat tempo from Julie Giroux which musically depicts ruler Genghis Khan heading towards battle.

Chamber Orchestra followed with “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” by Ralph Vaughn Williams. After a short introduction from Gilchrist, 10 students, dubbed the Brass Ensemble, walked in front of the stage and set their stands in a semi-circle. They propped their instruments up and played “Down to the River to Pray,” a traditional piece with contested origins. 

The Brass Ensemble is a student-formed group branching from Wind Ensemble that practiced during lunch and after school together. Junior Tia Kledzik, who plays the trumpet, recalls how they and their bandmates went up to Gilchrist and asked to form the group – to which he immediately agreed. The 10 of them chose their own songs and practiced without a conductor, which Kledzik thought was a fun new experience. 

“We got together during lunch and after school, and we would just run it together and rehearse it,” Kledzik said. “It was mostly about getting the balance right and communicating between the different members … so it’s just us looking at each other and making eye contact to keep in time.” 

Concluding the concert was the Philharmonic Orchestra, a combination of students from all the musical groups, which played “Overture to a Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Felix Mendelssohn. Kledzik enjoyed listening to all the songs during the concert, her favorite being “Khan,” but believes that the groups could still work on making their pieces more engaging in the future. 

“I got to listen to all the different ensembles, which was pretty fun,” Kledizk said. “I think [we could make] more dynamic contrasts within the piece and make it a little bit more expressive, but I think it worked pretty well.”