Academy Orchestras and Bands Showcase Mendelssohn to Mozart

The clear, crisp notes of a single flute echoed throughout the chapel, as other instruments chimed in, crescendoing into one magnificent melody. Filling the entire chapel with this tune, the Academy Symphony Orchestra treated audiences to “Symphony No. 5, Op. 107” by Felix Mendelssohn.

Audience member Zack Peng ’21 said, “The piece by Mendelssohn was my favorite because the students did a phenomenal job bringing out and contrasting harmonies and melodies. It was a great blend. They were in time, and I think they just worked together really well in order to present the piece.”

This piece was one of five songs performed by the Academy Symphony, Chamber Orchestras, and Concert Bands during their Family Weekend Concert in Cochran Chapel last Saturday evening.

The concert opened with “Our Kingsland Spring” by Samuel Hazo, a calm piece with a peaceful feel. It started with a slow, cheerful melody before the rest of the instruments joined in to create a ringing harmony.

Violinist Emerald Tan ’20 said, “I really learned how to play in a group setting through orchestra. Playing solo is very different from playing in a group. In orchestra you have to play a little quieter because there are other people making up for the noise you could be making. Listening for rhythm and taking cues from others is also really important for the piece to go smoothly. You have to focus on your own sound and the orchestra as a whole.”

Rising from a softer, rapid hum, the notes of the fourth movement of “Second Suite for Military Band in F Major” by Gustav Holst, played by the Concert Band, built in intensity and speed before dropping back to a softer tone and quickly escalating again to a grand melody. The piece ended with a low tuba solo accompanied by the high notes of the piccolo.

Hornist Victoria Zhang ’20 said, “I liked the fact that there was a piccolo in it. For me, it’s special because typically for band pieces that I’ve played in the past, there haven’t been piccolos. It was interesting that the piccolo was combined with the tuba solo at the end, which for me is very new; I have never heard of that before. The piece wasn’t technically difficult, but there were a lot of new nuances to the piece that made it really fun to play.”

The pieces in the concert came together seamlessly, as students worked together in the group environment, encouraging and receiving motivation from each other.

“This has a way of snowballing. It’s the same thing you would find in an athletic competition. If the team is doing really well, all of a sudden it really clicks, and everyone is playing beautifully. That’s how it happened. It started, and everyone was making the entrances — the effects were really starting to happen. When that happens, it tends to make everybody completely invested, and things then go quite well. That’s how it works. It’s a group performance,” said Vincent Monaco, Instructor in Music and Director of the Academy Concert Band.

The performance continued smoothly with “Suite in E for Strings (Lady Radnor’s Suite)” by C. Hubert H. Parry and “Divertimento in F Major, K. 138” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and closed off with “Second Suite for Military Band in F Major” by Gustav Holst. The Tuesday Band, Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, Academy Chamber and Symphony Orchestras, and Academy Concert Band performed at the event. Each song was individually beautiful, but the one standout was the Mendelssohn, directed by Derek Jacoby.

“When people show up to orchestra ready to give their all in rehearsal and listen to the conductor, it just makes the piece sound so much better. It’s easier to get things done and resume practice. That’s how the Mendelssohn was able to sound so good. People showed up to practice. They tried hard. They loved it, and it really came together,” said Sadie Cheston-Harris ’20.

“My favorite part was probably hearing the piece as a whole — us all coming together after a lot of rehearsals. We do sectionals and other things, so we practice our own part, but when we come together as a full orchestra, it really sounds incredible,” added Amy Chew ’20.