Unaccompanied Minors Brings Hollywood to Andover

Unaccompanied Minors (UM) thrilled the audience with their orchestral renditions of Hollywood’s best contemporary film scores last Sunday in the Cochran Chapel.

UM is Andover’s only completely student-run orchestra. The group composes its repertoire from a combination of external scores and self-arranged pieces.

The group of musicians started off the concert with a classical interpretation of “Party Rock Anthem,” originally a 2011 electronic song.

Arranged and conducted by Greg Zhang ’12, the performance of “Party Rock Anthem” stayed true to the memorable tune and original rhythm of the song. Zhang’s take of the popular song dynamically combined an upbeat, foot-tapping tempo with a haunting, tension-building intro.

“I personally like ‘Party Rock Anthem’ the best because I think everyone gets a little piece of it. It was also very challenging to arrange, but I think it went really well,” said Zhang.

As soon as UM’s first piece hit its final note, Sam Koffman ’13, UM Co-President, a celloist for the first piece, took over as the conductor. The familiar tune of the “Star Wars” opening theme song echoed throughout the Chapel.

The trombone, usually an instrument that only appears in singular notes in an orchestral repertoire, played an integral role in UM’s rendition of the “Star Wars” medley. Isabel Knight ’12, trombonist and UM Co-President, and Christian Zhang ’12, played their solo parts with powerful intonations and imbued the melody with the feel of the original “Star Wars” themes.

Kate Shih ’13, the medley’s skillful arranger and UM’s trumpeter, chose to fuse several of the most memorable “Star Wars” themes into a single piece. The themes that she implemented included the opening theme, the love theme “Across the Stars,” Darth Vader’s theme and Cantina.

“At the end of the fall term, we nominated songs so people could vote on them. For the [“Star Wars”] medley, I just picked the themes that people in the group wanted to do and the themes that other people recommended to us,” said Shih, explaining the process of making the song choices to perform.

The ambiance of the Chapel turned ominous as both the woodwinds and strings simultaneously played the opening notes of “Into the Storm,” originally composed by Robert W. Smith and previously performed at the 2012 Abbot Cabaret.

All of UM’s instruments melded together and create a dynamic sound that captured the feeling of urgency and danger that “Into the Storm” sought to portray. The performance also included a captivating flute solo by David Benedict ’15.

“[The performance] was really breathtaking because I felt the energy of all the players. My favorite was ‘Into the Storm’ because I really love the way that if you close your eyes, you can almost picture a storm coming—it was fierce and then calm and was fierce again. It was so realistic,” said Alphonse Le ’15.

The UM concert is unique in that it is student-run and tends to play more contemporary pieces than other music programs at Andover.

“I think that it is very important for students to have an outlet that they can control. The purpose of UM is for them to be self-generated, so they can identify music that they want to play,” said Rebecca Sykes, Associate Head of School.

“I wish it was slightly longer. I especially love the last piece [‘Into the Storm’] because it was very dramatic. It made me look forward to the rest of the piece. It was part of the reason why I was disappointed to see the concert end,” said Yin after the concert.

UM is looking forward to their next concert in the spring.