Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Norwich Free Academy's 2007 Holiday Concert

Slater Auditorium at Norwich Free AcademyOne of the stained glass windows inside the Slater Auditorium
at Norwich Free Academy

As I had briefly mentioned previously, part of my agenda for Tuesday was to attend The 2007 Holiday Concert that Amanda was performing in at Norwich Free Academy. As part of the curriculum of Concert Band II, Amanda has to perform in several concerts throughout the year - generally a Winter, Spring, and End of Year concert. Even though I can't play a musical instrument (somehow I don't think the kazoo or the peripheral for Guitar Hero counts!) or carry a tune in a bucket, I thoroughly enjoy going to concerts of all kinds and having my daughter on stage simply adds to the benefit.

This is Amanda's second year in Concert Band at NFA and this was the fourth concert that I've attended and I must say that I was once again very impressed not only with the abilities of the musicians but also with the band director - Mr. MacDonald (or Mr. Mac as he is called by his students). This is Mr. Mac's second year as band director at NFA and he chooses some very impressive music for his students to attempt; he sets the bar high and his musicians seem to have no problem in clearing it.

Last night's concert began with a performance by the Jazz Band who played a snappy rendition of "I Wish" by Stevie Wonder. They had only rehearsed twice as the Jazz Band was very recently assembled but you never would have known it as they sailed through the tune with flying colors. After the Jazz Band left the stage, more chairs were added and the Orchestra began their part of the program. They performed four pieces which included two pieces by Bach, one by Beethoven. and one by Tchaikovsky which was the "Waltz From the Nutcracker Suite". All four pieces were impressive but I particularly liked the Tchaikovsky one.

After another change of seating on the stage (bear in mind that NFA has a very small stage as the auditorium is the original one that was constructed when the school was built in 1854 so trying to get everyone comfortably seated is an art in itself!), the Concert Band took the stage and began their portion of the program with "Variations On A Korean Folk Song" followed by "Moravian Folk Rhapsody", and then the "Irish Tune From County Derry" otherwise known as "O' Danny Boy" which is a particular favorite of Mr. Mac as his name is Dan. It was made even more special as his mother was in the audience and it was the piece he performed as his audition to get the band director position at NFA. That particular piece of music never fails to bring a tear to my eye and it did once again last night; it was very well played and Mr. Mac seemed very pleased, as well he should have been.

Next up was what turned out to be my favorite piece of the night "Africa: Ceremony, Song, and Ritual" composed by Robert W. Smith. This particular piece of music had a lot of drum work and even though Amanda plays flute, I really love the percussion section. I wish I had been able to capture this piece on video as it was just excellent and the students outdid themselves with it but I don't think I could have held the camera steady for that long!

The last song that the Concert Band performed is one that Mr. Mac intends to do annually from here on out at the Holiday Concert - "Sleigh Ride". I've always thought this to be a very fun tune and even though Amanda said that it was hard to play, she seemed to enjoy it, too. This song I did catch on video and even though it's not the greatest quality and there are a few glitches here or there I thought I'd post it because that's what proud moms do! Unfortunately, you can only see the back of the flutists but you should have no trouble picking out Amanda's black hair!

There was one casualty of the night as a piece on Amanda's flute broke near the end of the concert but why not? So many other things have broken around here - the washing machine, the belt on the vacuum cleaner, a couple dishes - that it was inevitable that something else was going to break! I hope it's not anything too serious as I really can't afford to get Amanda a new flute at this point and she really needs it as she can't very well go to band without an instrument. Sigh ... why does all of this have to happen at once? I wonder if it's too late for Santa to come up with a flute? Probably ...

At any rate, in spite of the broken flute, it was an excellent concert even though there was no Christmas music so as not to "offend" anyone. That part still galls me and Amanda says that Mr. Mac doesn't particularly like the limitations either but unfortunately it seems to be the way the world is going even though most of us don't seem to like it at all. Oh well, let me climb down off of my soapbox and you can enjoy "Sleigh Ride" - just be kind on the criticism of my cinematography as this is my very first video ever and you try holding a camera steady while you're tapping your foot! I should add that what looks to be a wide black line on the left is actually one of the pillars placed in really bad spots in the auditorium and not a defect on the video. Apparently people in 1854 didn't mind having pillars block their view!


  1. This politically correct stuff is a bunch of hogwash. If someone gets offended by the word Christmas of Hanukka or Kwanza they can stick a candy cane in it. I meant that very politely you know.

    Wonderful that Amanda is so talented. I sure hope that her flute is OK and she can continue with her band classes.

  2. Linda and Amanda! I enjoyed Sleigh Ride very much. Thank you for sharing. I think the quality of sound is excellent! Brava.

  3. This is the one thing I miss about the season: The music! I used to sing with the community choir and each year they performed Handel's Messiah, with guest soloists from the Los Angeles area. I couldn't pass the audition these days, but I sure miss singing!!!
    I'm glad Amanda is getting the opportunity to learn the discipline of music. There's nothing else quite like it!

  4. Anonymous5:52 AM EST

    I love that song! Tell Amanda that the next stop is Carnegie Hall!

  5. very nice post linda, oh by the way kazoo is an instrument and air guitar is also......

  6. I can't see you video at work but will check it out tonight at home.


  7. Well done to Amanda!

    Who are these faceless people who say everyone is offended at Christmas?

  8. Linda,
    This post sparked a lot of memories of both my school days and the many concerts I was a part of. But, mostly I remember my five children's concerts through the years they were growing up. All of them were heavily involved in choirs, band, jazz band, etc. Luckily, they didn't have any restrictions on playing Christmas music.

    One of the most memorable concerts my oldest son was part of took place in the sanctuary of our church. The program was comprised of religious music through the ages. And keep in mind, this was a public high school in 1990, so it wasn't all that long ago.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Tar Heel Ramblings

  9. Back in the day when I was a little whipper snapper, we could still have Christmas concerts.
    You are an excellent mom for not only supporting your kid with her talents, but sharing the joy with others (well, me!).
    Hugs to Amanda!
    And I like the sticking the candy cane up the orifice idea from mychroniclife ~ I say MERRY EFFING CHRISTMAS to those who are offended by someone saying Merry Christmas! I hope Hannukkah Harry shoves a latke up their nose, too!

    So, Happy Hannukkah and Blessed Solstice and Krazy Kwanzaa and Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

  10. I use the term Happy Holidays to incorporate everyone who celebrates according to their beliefs at this time of year. I'm not "offended" by any of the other terms, but how am I to know the preference of the person I greet?

    Joyous Yule and Happy Holidays!

  11. Dangit! I forgot to say that the band sounded fantastic! There's some talented kids on that stage.

  12. Anonymous5:53 PM EST

    No offense but I enjoyed the post about the festive concert that coincidentally took place near Christmas time.

    byw Happy 25th December from someone who doesnt particularly like Christmas in the 21st century but likes even less to be told that Christmas is an offensive term. bah humbug


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