Showcase concert sets music department off on a strong start


Maria Newton

Senior Meghan Stanfield, junior Theresa Monteleone and senior Chloe Hershenow perform enthusiastically in Jazz Choir at the First Annual Music Department Showcase Concert. This is Stanfield’s second year in the ensemble. “Singing is my passion, and it’s so nice to come to class to just sing with all my friends,” Stanfield said. “It really helps me forget about all the chaos of the world.”

As parents, friends and students poured into the gymnasium, they were met with the rhythmic pounding of the Marching Band. The strong metronome, meant to keep the marchers in synchronization, was captivating.

This was the beginning of the First Annual Music Department Showcase Concert: a concert including performances from every single musical ensemble. All groups played one arrangement, except for the Concert Choir, which performed two.

Opening with the Marching Band, led by senior Jake Beach and junior Katelyn Chapman, was a fantastic idea as percussion-heavy music pulled the audience members in and promised an intriguing show to come. After playing their piece, the Marching Band added to the drama by marching off the stage; the tall feathers on their shako hats brushing the top of the doorway as they walked steadily out.

Chamber Orchestra followed, conducted by the Orchestra Director Ed Sandheinrich. The elegant string instruments moved carefully and beautifully, but they were difficult to hear. Whether the fault of the sound system or simply poor acoustics of the gymnasium, it was disappointing to not hear the orchestra as loud and clear as the preceding band.  

The show then moved all the way to the other side of the gym for the Concert Band that is directed by Band Director Brad Wallace. Again, the room was intoxicated by the mix of brass, wind and percussion instruments. The Marching Band members who are also a part of Concert Band, wearing their mostly blue uniforms, were intermixed with the black bow tie tuxedos of the other students.

Attention shifting to the center stage, the Chamber Choir and the Chorus rose from their seats and walked single file onto the risers. It looked very professional. Their voices mixed together beautifully as they sang their song “Knox Bridge Jubilee” by Richard Meyer.

Maria Newton
Senior Erin Clay performs with the Jazz Band for the first time. She is playing the baritone saxophone even though she plays the flute in Marching Band. “I love [Jazz Band so far]. It is so interesting,” Clay said. “It is another instrument [entirely] so I have to practice a lot to get used to it.”

The Jazz Band, setting up stage right from the choir, is compiled of members from Concert, Symphonic and Marching Bands. For the first time since 2001, the Jazz Band is a big band, which means they have five of each horn (trumpet, trombone, saxophone) and at least one person for the other sections (bass, guitar, drums, piano). They played a traditional jazzy tune, and the big band sound is vastly different from the small ensembles last year. Unfortunately, with all the extra members, it was harder to hear soloists senior Ryan Crowley, junior Charlie Foy and sophomore Aaron Hall. I am excited to see how this new Jazz Band develops this year.

Then, the famed Jazz Choir stole the show. Junior Jake Juenger soloed in Kerry Marsh’s arrangement of the classic “Feelin’ Good” and the rest of the ensemble belted in the background. The facial expressions and passion in their singing blew me away and I found myself bobbing my head up and down to the music.

The crowd was a bit riled up after the jazz performances, but the Concert Orchestra brought their attention back to elegant music, even though they were still difficult to hear. Hopefully, in following years the venue will be set up better.

Next, the Symphonic Band and Orchestra played one piece each. Both of these groups are the most experienced of the traditional bands and orchestras, and you could tell. Especially with the orchestra, whose shrill instruments overcame the poor location and kept me captivated; the Symphonic Orchestra was definitely another big highlight of the show. The students plucked and played their strings so quickly, that the music moved faster than I could follow.

The Concert Choir performed two well-balanced pieces under the direction of Conductor Eric Anthony. Having once been a member of choir myself, I was taken aback and impressed by how unified the voices in the different sections sounded in both songs.

Finally, all of the choirs, the Symphonic Band and Orchestra performed “God Bless America” together. This piece did not necessarily fit the mood of the concert, but it was really cool to hear all of the different musicians together: very fitting for a showcase. Then, to close out the show, the groups finished with our fight song “Stand Up and Cheer,” which got the crowd involved and on their feet and left everyone smiling.

I was very impressed with all of the ensembles, especially considering they had so little time to learn their music. Some students that are members in multiple groups, like Marching Band and Symphonic Band for example, that had to learn multiple pieces, really impressed me. West should be proud of all of their talented and multi-faceted musicians and I hope they continue this tradition of an annual showcase concert.

The Parkway West Pathfinder gives the First Annual Music Department Showcase Concert a 9/10.