Setting the tone for the season: looking back on the 2016 Winter Concert


Adam McQuilkin

The Jazz Band donned festive hats to ring in the season.

Hannah Balfour, Staff Writer

On the evening of Dec. 15, groups from the Hollis Brookline Performing Arts Department showcased their work at the annual Hollis Brookline High School Winter Concert.


In preparation for the performance, choir director Matthew Barbosa worked meticulously with his classes to make sure every note was as perfect as could be. Similarly, band director Dave Umstead prepared his orchestras for a unique performance, with elements never before seen by HB audiences.  


After many days of this hard work and practice, the department was ready for the 2016 Winter Concert. The auditorium seats were packed full as Nicole Plummer ‘19 started the night with a bang, singing the beginning of “Amazing Grace,” which was then played by Concert Band. Plummer, who has sung all of her life and has had private voice lessons for seven years, later  shocked the audience when her voice was heard from atop the catwalk during the Honors Choir’s performance of “I Wonder as I Wander” — a first in the history of the HB choirs’ expansive repertoire. “It’s an adrenaline rush,” Plummer said of her performance above the audience.


Later in the night, Concert Band debuted a unique rendition of  “Foundry.” According to Umstead’s program notes, the composer of the piece, John Mackey, wanted it to sound like a bunch of metal clanging in a factory. The band interpreted this literally, and included actual hammers and handsaws making noise alongside the music. An electric saw was also used during this performance and shot sparks into the crowd.


After the chaos of “Foundry,” the bands had another surprise up their sleeve. Kristi Fox ‘17 became the first student conductor to be featured at a Hollis Brookline concert, conducting Wind Ensemble’s rendition of “Intermezzo.” Music has always been a part of Fox’s life; growing up both grandparents were music teachers and introduced her to different forms of music. She has played multiple instruments, such as oboe and piano, for most of her life. Fox said this conducting experience made her realize she wants to continue her music career.

[aesop_gallery id=”10400″]

After the band, The Honors Choir opened their set with a riveting performance of “Anojpusėj Dunojėlio” by Vaclovas Augustinas, a Lithuanian song. In the darkness, unbeknownst to them, the audience became surrounded by the group who took to the sides of the auditorium, the only hint of their presence being the small lights on their music folders. Suddenly, the room erupted with a deep hum from the basses and tenors, and with a solo from Leslie Comeau ‘17, the piece began.


At the beginning of the piece and middle of the piece, the group had the chance to experiment with improvisational singing. Each section was given a melody, and every individual continued the melody with their own notes and at their own pace until the sound culminated into a cacophonous chord leading into the ending.  


“Each individual has their own solo” said Barbosa prior to the concert, noting that while his choir was able to experiment with improvisational singing, coming back to his instruction during the metered portions of the piece was critical. “The test of a true conductor is to perform gestures that not only prepare the sound musically, but also provide an emotional interpretation and communicative my act as a unifying agent of healthy vocal production.”
After a successful concert, many of the audience members went home with a new appreciation for the music department and its students.