MHS Winter Concert Brings Joy and Music To All

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By Cameryn Oshiro
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(Katie Hashimoto | Trojan Times) Excluding symphonic band, this is the first concert band and orchestra groups have had to show the work they’ve put in throughout the semester. The concert also acts as a way of evaluating students progress in their pieces.

Bringing joy and warmth through music, the MHS Winter Concert was held on Dec. 4 at the Pearl City Cultural Center. The concert featured performances from the MHS band, orchestra and choir groups.

“Christmas concerts are (special) in a way that it lightens the mood and brings cheer to the audience. (This was) our first ‘real’ concert where we really (got) to showcase the hard work we’ve been putting into the first half of the year,” said flutist Junior Kristyn Nakayama. “I think having the Christmas concert every year is important because it really adds enjoyment and fun to band.”

The various groups played a variety of songs from Concert Band’s performance of “Novena” to the Symphonic Wind Ensemble’s “Phantom of the Opera” arrangement.

Music director Curtis Hiyane, who conducted the Concert Band and the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, has been a part of the Winter Concert planning and production for 27 years. “Besides performing music of the Christmas season, this concert (displays) the mid-year progress of the groups.  After the Winter Concert, I evaluate what each ensemble has accomplished.  I (then) set new goals for the rest of the year, so we can strive for an even higher standard of musical excellence for the Spring Concert,” explained Hiyane.

The song selection process consisted of decisions made by the directors of each music group. MHS’ Music Director Kristi Higuchi-Delos Santos explained, “It’s up to the director (to decide) what they want to perform. (Each group) is given about 20 minutes for performance, so the director thinks ‘all right I’m given 20 minutes’ so you always try to get a variety of genres—maybe something classical from the Baroque or Classic Era, or something contemporary. And it being the Christmas season, they’ll throw a Christmas song in there and they’ll try to gauge it.” Nakayama added, “I really enjoy the music selections we get. It really helps to see the different varieties of music that’s out there, whether it’s a technical classical piece or a lighthearted Christmas themed song.”

Before the concert, performers, teachers and directors alike hoped to impact the audience in some way. Higuchi-Delos Santos expressed, “An appreciation. An appreciation for the music. Appreciation for the people performing the music. Just a way to relax and find the joy in music, and the sharing of music. Music is a (form of) communication, and just to get that sense that communication is an aesthetic art and feeling that sense especially in the holiday season with all the hustle and bustle that’s going on.”

Setting up for a production meant to captivate  called for weeks of preparation. “For this concert, I’m pretty sure the groups have all been preparing since first quarter. (The directors) are constantly preparing music,”  explained Higuchi.

The concert was held at Pearl City High School to allow the performers to get a feel of playing in different settings.“(Pearl City High School’s) venue (is) the closest theater/auditorium. The acoustics in the theater, and just to get the students to be able to perform in that atmosphere instead of the gym. That’s really one of the factors–we need to have some sort of facility on campus–a theater, auditorium–and we’ve been hoping that for a long time, but that’s why we got to take (the concert) to another venue,” stated Higuchi.

For many, the concert  was their first performance to showcase their musical talents along with what music means to them. “From the (point of view) of someone who used to sit in the audience for Christmas concerts, I found them moving and always lifted my spirits. Music in general has a way of putting someone at ease. Music makes people feel good. It’s also a proud moment for the parents too as they get to see their children’s efforts put into action,” stated Nakayama.

Students in band, orchestra and choir worked diligently to perfect their playing and singing. “The band and orchestra usually starts preparing music two to three months in advance before a concert. This is because we want the best quality sound for the audience and we need time for all the parts to slowly fit together properly. During practice we break down a song piece by piece until we get the desired sound. Each instrument has to listen to the others to balance and blend. It’s not a solo, it’s an ensemble,” expressed Nakayama. Hiyane added, “Preparations for the concert begins in class.  As I tell the students, the concert is an extension of the classroom.  Individual practice of the music is expected of all students.  Class time is when we put it together and work on sectional and ensemble concepts.  It is also a chance to showcase to our friends and families the progress the banda has made over the course of the year,”

As the first semester comes to an end, the music department looks forward to upcoming concerts, such as one in the Spring which often brings the orchestra and band together to form a symphonic orchestra.  The music department intends to take a short break before preparing for their Spring concert, bringing together the band and orchestra.