The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

“Unto Greater Heights” closes the year on a high note

MVHS Music Department performs its Pops Concert as the final concert of the year
Alyssa Yang
Instrumental Music Director John Gilchrist opens the floor for applause following senior and concertmaster Amy Zheng’s violin solo for a concerto.

The MVHS Music Department performed a mix of modern and classical pieces in its Pops Concert “Unto Greater Heights” on Friday, May 17. In the first act, the String Orchestra, Symphonic Band and Concert Band took the stage for their final performances of the year, followed by the Chamber Orchestra, Wind Ensemble and Philharmonic Orchestra in the second act, with duos and quartets interspersed throughout the evening.

The night’s repertoire ranged from anime theme songs and video game tracks — such as “Megalovania” from the video game “Undertale” and “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” theme song — to a performance of the classical contemporary piece “Young Apollo, Op. 16,” composed by Benjamin Britten. Senior and concertmaster Amy Zheng explains that the Pops Concert is a longstanding tradition of the music program, one that she enjoys as a step away from their usual repertoire.

Senior and violist Piyush Shanbhag performs “Passacaglia” by Handel and Halvorsen. Photo by Alyssa Yang

“I love the Pops Concert,” Zheng said. “It’s always the last concert, and we always get to play a lot of really cool music that can really connect with the audience personally because a lot of these tunes are ones people are familiar with. It makes rehearsing them more fun because all of us are familiar with it too.”

Between the ensemble pieces, various duos and quartets stepped down from the stage to showcase their individual talents in a more intimate space with the audience. Senior and violist Piyush Shanbhag played “Passacaglia” by classical composers George Frideric Handel and Johan Halvorsen as a duet with senior and cellist Noah Vin. He describes the experience as extremely challenging but rewarding, due to having to transpose a piece that had originally been written for violin and viola to viola and cello.

However, Shanbhag’s favorite piece of the night came later — a performance from Zheng as the concertmaster for the evening. Donning a bright red dress that contrasted from the ensembles’ concert black attire, Zheng passionately performed center stage as a violin soloist for Felix Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto in E Minor.” Though Zheng was stressed about performing in front of a large audience, she says understanding Mendelssohn’s music helped her build confidence in her own interpretation of the concerto.

“How I initially interpreted it, I was very fierce going into it, but Mendelssohn was a watercolor painter and came from a pretty affluent background,” Zheng said. “That helped me interpret the concerto more lyrically. I listened to a lot of recordings — everyone has different interpretations, and of course I take inspiration from them, but I also try to make the piece my own. I really do feel like I was able to show the best I could onstage.”

After the final performance of the night, Instrumental Music Director John Gilchrist recognized senior Dhivyaa Srinivasan and Vin with the John Philip Sousa and National School Orchestra Awards for band and orchestra, respectively. Throughout the concert, he also paused between performances to recognize graduating seniors in the various ensembles.

Looking back on his four years in the program, Shanbhag credits Gilchrist for the growth he has seen in both himself and the program, citing Gilchrist’s ambition and vision as instrumental to his high school musical career.

“It’s a little bittersweet because we achieved a lot this past four years, and I want to thank Mr. Gilchrist for that because before my freshman year, the MVHS music program wasn’t the best,” Shanbhag said. “Mr. Gilchrist was really ambitious for us, so he really brought us to the next level, with going to the Midwest Clinic and Carnegie Hall. I had one of the best music experiences in high school.”

Senior and concertmaster Amy Zheng performs center stage as a soloist for Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto in E Minor.” Photo by Alyssa Yang

For both Shanbhag and Zheng, the concert was a sentimental ending to their time in the MVHS musical program, while simultaneously being a new direction for music in their lives. Shanbhag says he will continue playing with Vin, who he describes as an incredible musician and friend, and plans to double major in music performance so as to keep music in his life. Likewise, Zheng notes that while she won’t major in music, her four years in the program have been pivotal to her high school experience, specifically with the relationships she’s built.

“Looking back at my journey, how all four years of being in the music program have gone for me, I’m going to be really sad to leave all the people that I’ve met here,” Zheng said. “I’ve definitely made some of the best friends ever playing music. This is, for many of us, the last time we’re playing together. We’ve played together all the way since seventh grade, so it’s been a long journey.”

About the Contributors
Kathryn Foo
Kathryn Foo, Features Editor
Kathryn Foo is a junior and a features editor. She is apparently extremely uncultured but can talk for hours if given the chance.
Alyssa Yang
Alyssa Yang, News Editor
Alyssa is currently a junior and a News Editor for El Estoque. When she isn't in a dance studio (which isn't often) she loves traveling, assembling modeling kits and playing too many crosswords.
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