Arlington High School Performing Arts has been busy this fall and winter, presenting some wonderful concerts in the auditorium that showcased electronic, instrumental, and vocal music. Each one offered the audience a wide range of musical styles–from contemporary to traditional, from classical to classic rock, for example–and enabled the students to demonstrate their talents and passions.
The Choral & Music Tech Collaborative Concert took place on October 26. While some technical difficulties resulted in an inability to present the videos that the Music Technology students had produced, these were later added to a re-mix of the concert created and distributed by AHS Electronic Music Teacher John DiTomaso. AHS Music Technology courses span basic techniques, songwriting, film music, mixing and mastering, sound design, synthesis, and electronic programming. Most of the work presented by the Tech students at the concert was original, and was either performed live or delivered via video format with backgrounds that matched the tone of the creations. Some creators used pictures from nature, others used people, while others used pulsating colors, shapes and patterns.
The live performances by the AHS Concert Choir and AHS Chorale included early music performed in Latin, a folk song, bluegrass, and a Korean love song written by the mother of the Chorale member who was the soloist for the performance. The group sang in Korean and was accompanied by the composer and a guest instrumentalist in traditional dress who played a native drum. The Contemporary Music Ensemble, consisting of a piano, drum, guitar, and two singers, delivered their version of a song by Sting, honoring the 30th anniversary of his acclaimed 1993 album Ten Summoner’s Tales.
On December 15 and 16, the AHS instrumental and choral groups came together to perform their winter concert. The scope of the high school music program is clear when the vast majority of the students who take part in the AHS music groups take to the stage. The concert opened with an updated arrangement of Woke Up This Mornin’ presented by Bros II Men, a small ensemble led by OMS Performing Arts Teacher Nathaniel Smith. This traditional gospel song, made popular during the Civil Rights movement, was followed by the Concert Band’s performance of the world premiere of Civil War, written by Arlington music teacher and performer Seth Hamlin.
The concert continued with wonderful vocal performances by the Concert Choir, Madrigal Singers, Bella Voce, and the Arlington Chorale, all conducted by AHS Choral Director Mara Walker. The instrumental sections of the program featured another piece by the Concert Band, as well as performances by the Honors String Orchestra, Jazz Band, and Symphony Orchestra, conducted by AHS Instrumental Director Sabato D’Agostino. As is tradition, the final number of the two-hour concert brought singers and players together for Giuseppe Verdi’s Va Pensiero from his opera Nabucco. Seeing and hearing from the combined ensembles is always a treat for the audience and a wonderful way to bring the evening to a close.
The concert held on January 18 celebrated 15 years of original student productions. Sonic Voyages XV featured more new works in sound and visual media created by the Music Technology students. The Contemporary Music Ensemble was present for another live anniversary performance, this one in honor of Steely Dan’s classic 1974 album Pretzel Logic.
The Sonic Voyages concerts, which feature pieces produced in whole or in part in the AHS music lab and project recording studio, are entirely student-driven, from production to promotion to sound, lighting, and film work for live recording. These presentations of original music enable audience members to share the concerns, feelings, and personalities of the student creators.