HS Spring Concert

Last Wednesday, the Spring Concert was held in the auditorium. The theme was “Blossoming Strings” for HS orchestra, and included classic pieces as well as jazz pieces. I believe the concert went well and we were able to play well as a group. I especially liked this concert as playing as a symphony orchestra was always something I wanted from when I was in 6th grade.

The repertoire started off with Brandenburg Concerto, a classical piece which I think the ensemble performed best, because we had especially worked on keeping a stable rhythm as a group and keeping together. As always, we tend to rush because we do not listen enough to other sections because we are so preoccupied with the music in front us. However, I believe that we were able to improve a lot throughout our practice.

Personally, I think I performed best in Bacchanale. As I was given the music about a week before the performance, I did not have much time to rehearse with the group so I had to depend on the recording and practice by myself. I was slightly apprehensive about this piece not only because I didn’t have much practice but also because the castanet was such a crucial part, setting the rhythm for the entire piece and I knew that I had to pay attention at all times and ensure that my counting was accurate, so as not to mess up and confuse the others. In the video, it seems as if I am unsure and playing randomly, but I payed attention at all times, counting accurately and listening to certain parts where some instruments enter, which I had previously noted down during rehearsal and I believe I was able to play confidently and without mistakes. I was also relieved to hear from my brother, who is dead honest, that my part stood out a lot and that it matched with the other sections.

Concerto for Timpani was most technically challenging because our part often included notes that were in a rather high range, which we as whole did not have much practice in, and good intonation was essential. We also had to ensure that we were listening to other parts because the melody would often alternate within the different sections.

A String of Pearls, although was not one of the pieces that I had performed best, was my favourite because I am focusing on jazz improv for this unit and I was able to listen to fellow students doing improv for a few measures, as opposed to professional jazz artists. Before the concert, I had listened to the original song, played by Glenn Miller Orchestra and there was a lot of swing to the song, which us amateurs can never exactly imitate as we are perhaps afraid of being flexible regarding rhythm because we often play pieces that have a set rhythm, but it is for sure one of the characteristics of the song which I love so much. I also loved how the trumpeter’s improv was so simple, without complicated rhythms and simply using the scale yet so put together.

Helping out at Grd 3 & 4 Concert

Last Friday, the Grd 3 & 4 Concert was held in the auditorium from 6:00pm. I played the piano accompaniment for Star Wars along with the elementary students and a few fellow middle schoolers. In order to prepare for it, I attended five rehearsals in total which account for five points and the concert (1 hr). Therefore, I earned 6 points in total. I enjoyed playing along with the elementary students as I love Star Wars and I loved seeing all of the students playing with so much enthusiasm and energy as it made me really happy. It was great that I was able to experience this as a service opportunity as well. Thank you Ms. Go!

 

IB Recital Accompaniment

On March 17th, I played the piano accompaniment for two pieces Aika was playing for her IB recital. The two pieces were LOVE by Nat King Cole and Air Varié No. 6. I really liked the two pieces and I had a lot of fun throughout the process of practicing the pieces. I was awed by Aika’s skill in playing the violin and singing so it was a wonderful experience being able to play along with her. The performance turned out very well and after weeks of practicing, I felt that our effort payed off and I really loved the experience overall. Also as an act of service, I think I earned 20 points.

Below are the mp3s of the pieces.

LOVE

Air Varié No. 6

Winter Instrumental Concert

On Friday, the Winter Concert was held in the auditorium.  The theme for ⅞ orchestra was “A Royal Winter” and our repertoire was mainly composed of pieces that were played for the royalty. It was the first big concert of the year for orchestra and band, and a lot of work was put into it so I was extremely excited for the performance. The first piece was “Le Divin Enfant”, meaning “The Divine Child” in French. The piece started off with dark, mysterious sounds representing the darkness and chaos before the birth of Jesus Christ. This is followed by a gentle, lovely melody that is a variation of the traditional french carol “He is Born, the Divine Child”. I think this was the most emotionally satisfying piece as the bells were the definite highlight of the piece and I loved the light, high-pitched sounds that sounded a bit christmassy and was a great addition to the piece. The next pieces was the first movement of the “Toy Symphony”. This piece portrayed a Christmas morning, where children were opening up their presents and playing with their toys. This was a very fun piece as unlike other pieces, several boys played toy instruments and Tomo played the trumpet as a special guest. Every time Yodai played the ratchet, I was impressed by his confidence and always could not resist laughing. I personally think this piece was played best as an ensemble as it was a very fun piece and everyone payed attention, making everyone united and very enthusiastic. It is a great pity and disappointment that the CA TV crew forgot to film the Toy Symphony, Minuet and Winter as I was looking forward to watch us play the pieces. Although I do not get a chance to reflect on my playing during Winter as the CA TV crew did not take a video of it, I think it was a success and we played beautifully. I had been working on vibrato for about 2 weeks and although I have not completely mastered vibrato yet, I think I did fairly well during winter and my patience and practice paid off. When I looked at the video for Terra Nova, I realized that when conducting, my arms looked rigid so I think I could have put a bit more flow into my arm movement and it would be great if more members of the orchestra looked at me for cues. However, it was a great wrap up to to the G ⅞ orchestra repertoire and it was a success. 12359836_1145420075469856_553966451807541781_n12301738_1145420338803163_5467383839266535942_n12357122_1145420395469824_2553566689689905998_o

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Music End of Year Reflection

As a member of the MS orchestra this year, I think I grew as a musician, actively participating and sharing ideas in class and becoming more observant and helping others by giving them advice on bowing or fingering etc.. In orchestra this year, not only did we play music, we also gained knowledge on history and other aspects of music through presenting about the Conquistadores (Hernán Cortés, Francisco Pizarro etc.) and we are also currently working on a presentation about carribean music. Ms. Constantini also gives us life lessons such as the importance of greeting others during music class and I think this has also bettered me as a person. I have also participated in the G6 & high school orchestra and band and middle school choir repertoir. Through participating as a percussionist in MS/HS/G6 Band & Orchestra, I have discovered the joy of playing a wider variety of instruments such as the bells, vibes, tambarines and of course the chimes! One of the pieces I played the bells for was “In Flight” during the HS Instrumental Spring Concert. It was one of my favourite piece as it was so powerful and had such a strong impact on me. The melody of the bells really stood out and I realized the beauty of the sound of the bells. While playing, I felt such a strong sense of pride in being able to play with the HS Band and I just loved the music! I was also surprised and admired Stephanie’s skills when she was playing the xylophone beside me. She played the countless notes on her music sheet very accurately and I was awed. Although my head hurt a bit and I was exhausted after the excitement during the concert, I had a feeling of satisfaction and it was such a wonderful experience!

Another time when I had unforgettable memories I had was when I played the chimes for “Moscow, 1941”; the last piece of the MS band repertoire for the spring concert this year. It was my very first time playing the chimes and I was awed by the impact the sound of the chimes had. It added a very different mood to the music and made it much more powerful. The piece demanded quite a lot of attention as I had to play accurately and swiftly. To play the instrument, it required strength and I was embarrassed by Mr. Vest a couple times during rehearsal as I was still not accustomed to the instrument and was afraid of hitting the pipes of the chimes as hard as I could. However, Mr. Vest told me to hit it as hard as possible and maybe break a few bones and passionately encouraged me to play as hard as I dared and on the day of the concert, I was very confident and was able to play well.

As a violinist, percussionist and pianist this year, I have grown and become more confident and I feel like this year has been full of exhilerating experiences and I guarantee that my excitement and enthusiasm when I recieve new pieces to play has definitely grown since last year.

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HS Instrumental Concert

On April 10th, the HS Instrumental Concert was held in the auditorium. Several middle schoolers including myself had the privilege of joining the high school students and play. I participated in most of the pieces on the program and it was quite a busy night. The first piece was “Allegro in G” from Concerto for Two Guitars. Mrs. Shirai played the keyboard as a guest and it souned really wonderful. It was very interesting as the extra effect was added to sound like the harpsichord. The harpsichord is an instrument that was used hundreds of years ago and it produces sound by plucking a string when the key was pressed. I played the mallet percussion (bells) for “Poem for Orchestra” and I loved the sound of the violin solo. The “Pirates of the Caribbean” was the last song of the orchesetra repertoir. Students from band and Mr. Cook participated as well and it sounded very dramatic and profound. When I heard the crash of the cymbals and the melody started speeding up, it was very exhilerating and it was one of my favourite pieces of the concert.

I also played the bells for the three pieces “A Joyful Fanfare”, “Red Covered Bridge” and “In Flight” from the band repertoir. For “A Joyful Fanfare” and “Red Covered Bridge”, the melody of the bells stood out and highlighted the piece and I think it sounded very well. “In Flight” was a piece with a rapid tempo compared to the other pieces and I had to concentrate to keep up with the tempo and make sure I did not miss beats. I really loved the piece and I think we were able to play very well. Overall, the concert was a success and I would like to thank Ms. Constantini and Mr. Vest for leading us and organizing, Mr. McHugh for being the MC and of course the players.

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Grade 6 Debut Concert Accompaniment

Today was the Grade 6 Debut Concert and I had the privilige of accompanying a clarinet player (Clara) and two flute players (Jina & Jinbo) on the piano part. It was a great experience for me as playing in an ensemble is sometimes challenging as we have to adjust the tempo and play in unison. At some parts of the piece, counting carefully was necessary as the beat was not very straightforward. To be able to play the piece to our best ability, we talked about where the flutes should take a rest etc. and we changed a few notes so it would sound interesting and better than having the flutes play the same notes. For the effort and practice time I put in, I think i deserve 5.5 points. Finally, I would like to thank Mr. Vest for giving me the chance to play with the three talented musicians!

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Winter Concert Reflection 2014

Winter Concert Reflection 2014

On Friday November 28th, the winter concert was held in the main theatre. The strings section and choir section of both MS & HS performed at the concert. During the MS strings performance, we played five pieces which were “Contredanse”, “El Gato Pizzicato”, “Hunter’s Chorus”, “Alegría” and “Conquistador”. “Contredanse” was the starting piece of the whole program and it was a little pressurizing and I could feel that the whole group was very nervous. When we started, the melody did not have as much gusto as when we practiced as we were a little tense. However, as we got less tense and more relaxed, the melody became more flowing and it sounded great in general.

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For “El Gato Pizzicato”, I played the piano part. As I reflected on my performance while looking at the video my mother took, I realized that I rushed a lot at the part where the whole orchestra plays pizzicato and they were struggling to catch up. I made a mental note to myself to make sure I do not rush next time as the melody of the piano is pretty much the base of the piece. However, I think it was one of the most enjoyable pieces as the melody was straightforward and it had an upbeat mood to it. The audience clearly enjoyed the sound effects as my mother said she especially liked the ‘meow’.

Hunter’s Chorus” by C.M. Von Webern was also a very fun piece. As it is a very well-known piece, we were quick to learn the melody and all of the separate tunes created a beautiful harmony. The next piece was “Alegría” by Janelle Zook Cunalata. This piece was definitely the piece that the orchestra performed the best. I could really feel that the whole group was united and I think every section played the accents very well although it was sometimes challenging to control the accents and make them distinct. I also loved the flowing melody in the middle section and how it suddenly changes to a more  hectic pace towards the end. In a way, it was also emotionally satisfying.


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The final piece that wrapped up the MS strings performance was “Conquistador” by Deborah Baker Monday. With a dramatic mood, it depicts the life of the spanish explorers known as the Conquistadores. Conquistador was one of the pieces I felt that I performed the best as I was able to play confidently and also, I made sure that the melody of the violins did not drown out the main melody of the cellos.

For the high school section of the strings performance, I played “Emerald Falcon” as a guest performer. I had never heard of a piece with a double-bass solo part and therefore, it was very interesting. The melody of the double-bass made the piece sound very deep and profound. It was the most technically challenging piece in the program for me as on measure 78 and 79, I had to change the angle of my elbow when changing the string. Also, I had to practice a lot of times to make the pitch perfect. However, I was fully prepared for this piece and therefore, I was able to play it confidently.

Overall, I think the concert went very well and I would like to thank Ms. Constantini and Mr. McHugh for making the concert a reality!

Orchestra Music Journal Post

Oct. 20th 2014

For the last few lessons, we have been practicing “The Emerald Falcon” by Richard Meyer. Although it was a little challenging at first, I am getting used to the piece after practicing a lot of times and I really enjoy it. I love the piece as it is powerful and very rhythmic. It sounds as if something grand and big is coming towards you. However after the rhythmic part, there is a part where it is absolutely beautiful as the melody of the solo violin can be heard very clearly. I also love the sound of the double bass which makes the piece deep and profound.  We are also playing “Hunter’s Chorus” by Carl Maria von Weber. It is very straightforward and I have heard the melody a couple times in the past and therefore it is pretty easy to pick up the melody.

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