Nobody Fell Off the Stage: Music Night 2017

By Jane Archibald

I’m supposed to write a report on Lisgar’s Senior Music Night (Thursday, October 19) but then I realized that you the reader probably couldn’t care less about the viola’s dynamic contrasts or the balance of the woodwinds… and if you do, you were probably there anyway. Or, you might be an ex-music student who wants to know how the senior ensembles sound without your amazing talent, but you’re too ashamed to face Mr. Arrigo and/or Ms. Mennill after having abandoned the music program; in which case, they sounded good, but of course they would’ve sounded a million times better with you there, whoever you are (That was sarcasm, you little ditcher).

If you were a performer, I know you’re going to say it was bad, but I know you feel obligated to have a negative opinion, so calm down. Your parents will think you sounded amazing no matter how awful it was, and it wasn’t awful. At least, I didn’t think it was awful, and I’m way less biased than your parents. In fact, I was secretly hoping it would be a little bad, because I was in the music program last year, and I want to feel missed. But no. You guys sounded good. Spoiler alert. But I’ll elaborate.

Even though Music Night was at 7:30 p.m., not a.m., I stuck to tradition and showed up five minutes late for old time’s sake. So I missed most of the first piece by Symphonic Winds, Royal Canadian Sketches by Ralph Ford, but the ending sounded very nice. My friend, who is a part of Symphonic Winds, said it was “SO BAD”, but as previously established, the rest of us can’t take the music kids’ self- reviews seriously.

The Witch and the Saint by Steven Reineke started off a little rocky in the brass section, but the ensemble pulled it together well. Woodwinds sounded lovely, especially the bass clarinet – I don’t know who you are, buddy, but you sounded awesome in that piece. Like, when does anyone ever notice that the bass clarinet sounds good? Oh and the percussion was super well done. Overall, most parts sounded quite pretty, and I should also note that the timing in this piece is insane, and with the exception of a couple entries that were not-so-together, they did a really good job not getting screwed over by the timing.

I’ll take this opportunity to congratulate everyone on stage for following the dress code. I saw no white socks, so big thumbs up! (For you non-music-geeks out there: NO WHITE CLOTHING is allowed on stage EVER under ANY circumstances. One year, a kid forgot to bring black shoes, and Ms. Christie, who used to teach grade 9 music, made him wear her black winter boots, which were 3 sizes too small).

Next up was Senior Jazz Ensemble, which played three pieces. First was If I Were A Bell by Frank Loesser, a funky one with a really well-done tenor saxophone solo, and then When Sunny Gets Blue by Marvin Fisher, which is a more schmaltzy one with a sweet alto solo. They finished off with Malaguena, which has playful sound to match its name and ended with an insane drum solo.

For some contrast came String Ensemble, which is composed of some very, very talented musicians. Their pieces are extremely well- played, and sound almost professional to a non-music-snob like me. The only issue is they play very classical-like (I say classical-like because it is not all from the Classical Period… I do remember something from music history). Classical-like is good for people who like that sort of music, but at night in a stuffy auditorium… It can be a little sleep-inducing. Not because it’s boring, but it’s just not very exciting, either. The kid in front of me, who shall remain nameless, fell asleep about two minutes into the first piece. The first piece was Loure (from Cello Suites) by Bach, who is from the Baroque period, not classical. Go on, be impressed with my correctness. The second piece was Intermezzo by Brahms and let’s just say the person in front of me did not stir and I tried to play hangman with myself in the margin of my notes. The third piece was a bit more exciting: Romanian Folk Dances by Bela Bartok, which sounded kind of like a movie soundtrack. The only issue was it had three movements, and PEOPLE DO NOT FREAKING KNOW WHEN TO CLAP! YOU DON’T CLAP IN BETWEEN MOVEMENTS!

Deep breaths. Anyway. The last ensemble to play was Symphony Orchestra and holy poop there were a lot of people. Having an ensemble of eighty students makes the sound very impressive and not-highschooly, but it probably also presents a safety hazard. Lisgar’s stage is not that big. Mind you, nobody fell off, which is a good thing for legal reasons but would have made a great headline… kidding, sorry.

What I really appreciated about Orchestra this year was that they had some pieces that were recognizable to the average high school student. The first one less so; Overture to Samson by Handel is really only known to people who know music well. But then they played The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas, and I love me some Disney tunes. They finished it off with William Tell by Gioacchino Rossini. You might not recognize this from the title, but you would know it if you heard it. Google it. Anyhow, the strings were amazing as per usual, especially the cello solo, the winds didn’t mess it up… in fact, the brass in particular really added to it nicely, and there were some really gorgeous flute parts as well. All in all, this concert definitely ended on a high note… pun intended.  ♦

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