Casual Tunes Kickstart Instrumental Music

Fiona Deane-Grundman, Staff Writer

The instrumental music department showcased its talent at the annual Potluck and Pops concert, a night of music and mingling on October 6.

Following a well-attended potluck in the quad, students, performers, and spectators made their way to the performing arts center at 7:00pm.

14 works in total were performed by the Big Band, the Orchestra, and the Symphonic band.

There was “a wide variety of music,” said freshman and contra-bassist Mikee Pedrozo. The works were derived from all different sources, including Broadway, cinema, and folk music, and represented a spectrum of cultural and geographic influences. There are more recognizable songs in this concert. Pedrozo said, “We have country, music from films, and Western.”

Senior percussionist David Granicher said, “We play more pop tunes instead of the classical music we play in the year.” Senior pianist and alto-saxaphonist Yifan Hong added that “[they play] more well-known tunes.”

Instrumental Music Director and Conductor Johnny Johnson welcomed the opportunity to exhibit less traditional pieces. “This is our first performance of the year, and it’s a pops concert, meaning that it’s music that’s not as serious as some of the repertoire and literature we study later in the year as the groups mature,” he said. “It’s always fun to play the movie music and the Broadway music because you don’t get to [usually] unless you’re going to program a piece at the end of a concert,” he added.

The opening piece was a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which Johnson called “pretty good for 3 1/2 weeks [of practice].” Pieces popular with the audience included the folk-rock anthem “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Paul Simon and the song “The Flik Machine” from the animated movie A Bug’s Life, performed by the Big Band. The Symphonic Band’s spirited “The Drunken Sailor” also garnered cheers. The Orchestra’s buoyant “America” from West Side Story and the heart-wrenching Les Miserables ballad “I Dreamed a Dream” were also crowd-pleasers.

According to Hong, senior flutist Sabrina Barba, and freshman violinist Sophia Cavalli, preparations for the performance were rigorous, considering how early it occurred in the school year. Hong said they practiced for about an hour every day, both during school and outside of school. Preparation began on the 2nd day of school.

Cavalli said, “It was pretty intense; we had a bunch of lunchtime rehearsals.” Pedrozo estimated she had been rehearsing for about 4 weeks.

Kirmayer said, “Mr. Johnson feels we have not prepared adequately. But I think I am well-prepared.”

Freshman Colson Jimenez added that it can be difficult for the different sections and individuals to mesh “as a group.”

Hong said, “Some of [the pieces] are very well-prepared and others are less but still concert-ready.”

 “We work really hard,” confirmed Johnson. “If we had two more weeks it would sound better; if we had three more weeks, it would sound better. After a while there is diminishing return, and this is kind of early, but that’s what’s great because the music is less serious and not as difficult as some of the music we’re going to study.” Despite the immediacy of the concert and doubts within the performing body, Johnson said, “We’ve been working hard and we feel prepared.”

There was anticipation and excitement in the musicians, who looked forward to demonstrating the rewards of their dedication. “I’m not nervous,” said Hong. “Performances are always fun.”

Since the Orchestra is comprised of grades 9-12, select freshmen were able to participate. “I’m the only freshman in my section,” said Cavalli. Petrozzo added, “I’m excited to see what it’s like. The CPAC sounds so much better; we sound actually pretty good for the first time performing with a new group.” Li agreed that the facility offers quality acoustics. She said, “considering we’re a high school orchestra, we sound pretty.”

All concert band members were required to attend. “They’re going to be doing this next year, so they need to see what it’s all about,” said Johnson, hoping that they would gain inspiration and a sense of how a musician’s effort is repaid when he or she gets a chance to demonstrate their ability.

Cavalli is impressed by the Campolindo music program. “There’s lots of exposure to different kinds of music,” she said. She commended her dynamic conductor. “I really prefer Mr. Johnson [as a teacher]. He’s intense but in a good way, for our benefit.”

The last number was a Symphonic Suite from Star Trek, which Kirmayer likened to “the works of James Tiberius Kirk.”

Johnson concluded the event by addressing the entire audience. He said,”It bodes for a very good year together.”