LUDLOW, Vt. – The Black River High School-Middle School Music Department presented its Winter Concert with a medley of holiday favorites in Black River’s Presidential Hall recently. Katherine Herrle, Black River’s music director, conducted the choir and band and performed with the Jazz Band.
All three ensembles have been working relentlessly over the past few months to prepare for this concert, adding additional rehearsals on top of already daily rehearsals, rehearsing with the pianist, and taking advantage of combined rehearsals with the band and chorus.
The combined choir, directed by Katherine Herrle and accompanied by Diane Chartrand, started the concert with a soprano-alto-bass arrangement of “Jingle Bell Rock.” This upbeat tune got the audience dancing in their seats, and some said, “This is the best concert I’ve seen in a long time.”
The choir then performed “Somewhere in My Memory,” a tune from “Home Alone.” The voices of the choir melted into one pure, harmonious sound, with soprano soloist Natasha Fortin.
“Bonse Aba,” a traditional Zambian piece of repertoire, provided a sharp contrast to the previous number. Soloists Ben Stanchfield, Natasha Fortin, Juliana Comstock, Aiyana Fortin, Christina LeTourneau, Sadie Kobak, and Jessie Powers sang in the traditional Zambian way, with power and confidence.
The choir then split, with one group performing “Silver Bells,” arranged by Audrey Snyder, and the second performing a “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” arrangement by Joyce Bacak.
The Jazz Band then performed, beginning with “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” with soloist Bailey Matteson on the trumpet.
Madeline Veysey played tenor saxophone for “Blue Christmas” and Mary Faenza played alto saxophone for “Frosty the Snowman.” Mary and Madeline also played a duet as they performed “Baby it’s Cold Outside,” which really brought a smile to everyone’s face. Bailey Matteson and Katherine Herrle also played the drums and the piano.
The band, directed by Katherine Herrle, began with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” with soloist Jonathan Oakes on the clarinet. Soloists Jonathan Oakes, clarinet, and Graeffn Anderson, French horn, starred in “Christmas Canon,” a combination of Pachelbel Canon and The First Noel, arranged by Michael Green. They continued with “In the Bleak Mid-Winter” by Gustav Holst, arranged by James Curnow, and finished with “Celtic Carol,” arranged by Robert Smith, starring senior soloist Alex Barton on the flute.
The combined band and chorus then performed “Sleigh Ride,” bringing a fantastic conclusion to the 2016 Winter Concert.
The audience was invited to enjoy holiday treats, provided by the Black River Booster Club.
Music Director Katherine Herrle said she has seen tremendous growth this semester, particularly from the chorus. This is her first concert as choral director, and she said her students have done an amazing job learning their music and how to project their voices, to make up for a small choir.
In addition, this is Herrle’s first concert directing the Jazz Band.
“The Jazz Band has also learned an incredible amount in the past few months,” Herrle said. “All three students walked into Jazz Band this year having never improvised a solo on their primary instrument or having ever played the bass, piano, or drums, but they all performed wonderfully at the concert, and I’m very proud of all their hard work.”
In the coming months, Herrle plans to work with the Jazz Band to move beyond the basics and perform some pop/rock tunes, and with the band and chorus behind the scenes to improve their sight-reading skills, allowing the students to learn more complicated music and refine their performance even more.
Black River’s next concert, the Spring Concert, will be on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 7 p.m. in Presidential Hall, and will feature the School Chorus, Band, and Jazz Band.