Music Review By Sally Mayne
Music students from all eight of the musical programs at Vicksburg High School put on a resounding concert that showed off their talents at such a high level it left the audience sending waves of applause to the musicians as each piece was completed.
In late December, members of the VHS band and choir presented their annual holiday concert to a packed house at the VHS Performing Arts Center with a medley of holiday favorites and non-traditional music. The concert included music from Symphonic and Concert Bands, Top Dawg and Early Dawg Jazz Bands, and on the choir side, from Chamber Singers, Treble Choir, Chorale and Simply Men.
The choir started out the concert with a Christmas gospel arranged by Caldwell and Ivory entitled, “Go Where I Send Thee”, a beautiful soulful melody, directed by VHS Choir Director Dustin Morris, accompanied on piano by Karla Stubblefield. Then in sharp contrast, the Symphonic Band, under the direction of Ben Rosier, performed a lively, upbeat tune, “Cowboy Christmas”, by Jeff Simmons. The contrast between the first two songs set the tone for the entire concert, where the different groups melted seamlessly back and forth between performances.
The arrangement for the Chamber Singer’s soulful, “Mary Did You Know?” was actually put together by VHS Choir student, Michael Halstead, based on the popular a cappella group Pentatonix, known for its medley-form vocal harmonies. VHS freshman Meaghan Miller wowed the audience with her powerful, soulful voice in “Please Come Home for Christmas”, made popular by R&B singer CeeLo Green. VHS sophomore Alyssa VanLoo exhibited amazing sign language skills in a choir piece, “Night of Silence.”
The choir and the band performances floated back and forth during the concert, keeping the Performing Arts Center filled with music. Both jazz bands had audience members’ toes tapping that evening and VHS senior Paxton Earl did amazing job on solos in the song, “Mueva los Huesos” as he switched effortlessly between playing both tenor and the soprano saxophones.
VHS seniors Mackenzie McCowen and Seamus Hyman who has been in choir for seven years, said, “Mr. Morris has been so much fun and has always been a teacher you could be comfortable talking to, making choir a really good experience for students.”
Katie Clarey, a senior who plays clarinet in the Symphonic Band talked about the positive experience it has been to be part of the band’s “leadership group”. Clarey is just one of many students who are enrolled in both band and choir, singing with the Chamber Singers as well. Brett Moore, also a band and choir senior, explained how it can be quite a challenge getting in place quickly for the next performance for students involved in both activities.
Watching Moore that evening, you could see him quietly, swiftly moving back and forth performing with the Choir’s Simply Men and Chamber Singers and then to trombone with Top Dawgs Jazz Band and the Symphonic Band. The same could be said for senior Amelia Knedgen, whose lovely soprano voice could be heard in the Chamber Singer’s selections, and on clarinet in band. Knedgen shared that both directors have helped her grow as a musician, as well as build her overall confidence.
At the end of the evening, the combined band and choirs performed the closing “Hallelujah Chorus”, by Handel. This beautiful piece of music was quite an accomplishment, since it involved 250-plus students performing on stage in either instrumental or vocal roles. It brought a fantastic conclusion to the concert.