After months of hard work and practice, on Sunday, January 22, our wind ensemble and brass band fulfilled a dream shared by musicians around the world – they played at Carnegie Hall. The performance was part of A Festival of Orchestras, which featured other schools from the area including the Brearley School, Packer Collegiate Institute, Collegiate School, Saint David's School, and Rudolf Steiner School.
"I am so proud of our UNIS students and the hard work and patience that it took to get here. This is something that they will remember for the rest of their lives, when they all united in the most collaborative way possible to make beautiful music," said Allegra Levy, Music Department Co-Team Leader. "This work truly speaks to the theme of UNIS. Music can act as a vehicle for change, is a universal language, and can truly make a better world."
Under the direction of John Lambert, the Tut House Wind Ensemble took to the stage and played the following four works. The first three were composed or arranged by current UNIS students.
- "Ides March" by Mir Abid Mohiuddin
- "Meliorem" by Wiley Schubert Reed
- "Fallout 4" arranged by Federico Caruso
- "Novena" by James Swearingen
After hearing their works performed for the first time in front of a live audience, students reflected on this unique opportunity and the paths they took in the creative process.
"Meliorem started as a piano melody I recorded on my phone last summer. From there I composed the rest of the piece on an electric keyboard, plugged into a music program with demo instruments on my laptop. For months it was at best a tinny audio file," said Tut House student Wiley Schubert Reed. "So the first time it all came together live, with the band, Meliorem took on a whole new life. For me, that is the best part of hearing my music in concert––how the band gives it feeling, emotion and meaning that I couldn't have given it myself."
For Tut House student and "Fallout 4" arranger Federico Caruso the performance was a moment worth sharing that he describes by saying,"it feels like a putting the final piece of a really hard puzzle into its place and looking at the masterpiece that you have just created. I feel that as my fellow band members play it feels as if every part fits in perfectly and I couldn't ask for a better group of musicians to play this adaptation."
After a burst of applause from the crowd, the wind ensemble left the stage and was quickly replaced by the String Ensemble lead by Patricio Diaz. The students proceeded to play:
- "Wachet Auf, Ruft Uns Die Stimme" by Johann Sebastian Bach
- "Symphony No. 9" by Antonin Dvorak
- "Dancing in the Redwoods" by Elliot Chang
Similar to the Wind Ensemble the String Ensemble was showered with prolonged applause from the audience.
The event gave not only current students but also an alumnus a chance to premier original work. In an earlier interview, Chang, who graduated from UNIS in 2012, said his goal in writing the piece was to capture the cultural diversity that he experienced as a student. He also stated, "I was inspired by a lyrical Scottish folk tune, 'Hùg Air A' Bhonaid Mhòir', that resonated with me as material that could both help meet my main goal and also guide me in a unique direction. The originating folk tune that inspired me reminded me of the beauty of nature, a new theme I have taken up as a composer in recent years. The final product turned out quite nicely as both a tribute to UNIS' cultural charm and my appreciation for nature."
Not resting on their laurels, in the coming weeks and months, the music department will soon be performing again. Next Monday, world famous jazz drummer and educator Matt Wilson will be coming to do an interactive clinic with our jazz bands from 3:00 - 4:30 pm. The Senior Chorus, Chamber Ensemble and Strings will hold their spring concert at our own Sylvia Fuhrman Auditorium on April 12th at 6pm.
In addition, the private lesson program will have their year-end recitals from May 15th-May 24th, featuring over 400 students in 30 different recitals, including "Jazz Night" which will feature our swinging Middle School and Tut House Jazz Bands. The Chamber Ensemble will perform with the world renowned Dessoff Choirs on Sunday, May, 21th, from 4pm-6pm, at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. Also in May, the Middle School Band, Chorus, and Strings will be attending this year's High Note Festival.
It is definitely an exciting time for the Music Department's faculty and students.