By Amanda Madenberg
Great Neck South High School’s musical groups performed in their second winter concert of the holiday season on Thursday night, Dec.17. Friends, family, teachers and peers filed into the auditorium expecting tremendous talent during a musical evening.
Once again, there was no disappointment. The high school’s complete winter concert was performed over two consecutive Thursdays, with each show about two hours long. The first concert included selections from the Jazz Band, String Orchestra, A Cappella, Broadway, Gentlemen’s Choir, Jazz Choir, Soul Sisters, South Singers and Concert Band. The second concert included Symphonic Band, Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Choir and Mixed Choir.
Larger concert groups such as Concert Band and Mixed Choir rehearse every day during their class periods. All students enrolled in band, orchestra and choir partici-pate in the main song selections. For smaller vocal groups, such as Broadway and Soul Sisters, there’s an audition process and only a select group of students practice with each one. These groups are considered extracurricular activities and usually rehearse once a week after school.
South High School is fortunate to have dedicated faculty members who are engaged conductors and leaders. Each conductor teaches a music class and mentors the student musicians through the entire process—from choosing which songs to play, to encouraging top students in music festivals, such as New York State Choir, and bowing at the end of each school concert. “I chose the pieces based on the level of the students entering ninth grade this year,” Concert Band Conductor Boschen said. “I know most of [the students] from middle school, so I can choose appropriate music given the short amount of time we have to rehearse.” These students only begin looking at the music in September and must be ready to perform by the beginning of December—somewhat of a time crunch. “I put some [music] in front of the kids [this year] that I didn’t think we’d be ready to play for the winter concert, but we ended up playing [it],” Boschen said. “This group of students is extremely talented.” The spring concert schedule provides a few extra months of preparation because the students will receive their music following the holiday break.
Baritone saxophone tenth grader Brian Volk has gotten a lot from his experience in Concert Band under Boschen’s leadership. “I have developed the ability to work well in the background of a piece. While it may not seem as important as playing the actual tune of the song, [my instrument] lays the foundation for the band to work [together] as a whole,” Volk said. His favorite piece was “DeerPath Dances”—the piece that was originally only for sight-reading purposes. Volk hopes to get involved with South’s Jazz Band in the future.
Some students participate in multiple small groups in addition to the larger ensemble groups. Each small choral group has a student leader who actually gets conducting experience at the concerts. A Cappella group leader senior Samantha Ng said, “I was proud of how [my group] was so united and dedicated to one another and [the song]. A Cappella allowed me to develop my leadership skills as well as enhance my musical ability.” Not all high schools can provide this invaluable leadership experience to musically driven students, and Ng said, “Because of A Cappella, I am easily able to teach and [refine] difficult harmonies and rhythms.”
In the lobby during the concert, South High School’s Key Club held a fundraiser for the Thirst Project, which aims to provide clean water in underdeveloped countries. The students sold water bottles to help the Key Club in their efforts to raise $12,000 in order to build a well in Africa. All donations to the Rebel’s Thirst Project page are encouraged and greatly appreciated at http://my.thirstproject.org/gnshskeyclub.