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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

San Gabriel rings in holiday season

All photos except of choir by Bren Belmonte | Tongva Times. Choir photo courtesy of David Pitts.

WINTER FESTIVITIES Clockwise from upper left: Advanced orchestra is led by Music Director Melissa Romero and GEMR performs “Spark of Imagination” at their winter concerts. Senior Nicole Madi, with choir director David Pitts, sings “Jingle Bells” in Arabic at the choir concert. The Tree Lighting in Mission Plaza is attended by SGUSD Superintendent Jim Symonds (back row) and board members (from left to right) Gina Chi, Rochelle Haas, Cheryl Shellhart, Gary Thomas Scott, and former board member Ken Tcheng.

By Brian Ly | Staff Writer

   The music departments hosted their annual Winter Concerts in the Gary E. Goodson Theater at 7 p.m. The Gabrielino High School orchestra and band departments performed on Dec. 9, while the Gabrielino choir department performed on Dec. 8. 

   The program included performances from the intermediate orchestra, advanced orchestra, and the Gabrielino Eagle Marching Regiment. The winter concert was also the first performance of the school year for both orchestras. 

   “Although I was nervous for the concert, I knew that our members put in the work, put in the hours, and so we took what was ours,” stated senior Kevin Tanaka. “The pressure to do well is always a constant for me, but whenever I think of the other people in our orchestra and how hard they have worked, I feel that I can not afford to mess up and let them down.”

   The music performed was non-holiday themed and the pieces were chosen by orchestra and band director Melissa Romero, as she felt they showcased the strengths of the electives. 

   “I typically don’t play a lot of holiday music, which is why it’s not called a holiday concert,” stated Romero. “Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of holiday music and my theory behind excluding it is because this is the time of year where you hear it everywhere, so I’m giving everyone a little bit of a break.” 

   “A Solitary Wish,” played by the advanced orchestra, was the only holiday piece on the program and was chosen for the story behind its creation. Romero shared the composer’s inspiration, which cited experiences with homeless people and their wishes to be seen, especially during the holiday season where many take celebrations for granted.

   The piece included solos from seniors Mike Otoguro, Sasha Sengelmann, Cassidy Yu, junior Kendall Suehiro, and sophomore Chenlu Yang. 

   The intermediate orchestra concertmaster, junior Ethan Wong, also performed a solo during “Ashokan Farewell.” 

   GEMR performed their field show, “Spark of Imagination,” which had a trombone solo from freshman Preston Diaz. 

    Jazz band performances were canceled due to COVID-19 related reasons.

   “We can only do our part and stay healthy and protected,” said senior Ceres Black. “We have a lunchtime performance on Jan. 25, as well as our own concert on Jan. 26. And if you happen to miss those, we’ll be making a special appearance at the winter rally as well.”

   The choir concert included performances from both concert and chamber choirs. Accompanists juniors Anson Law and Kristina Lu, and sophomore Jacob Chan played piano to supplement songs in the setlist.

   “As we do all of our concerts throughout the year, my expectation is that we continue to progress and get better,” stated choir director David Pitts. “For many of them, it’s their first year in choir ever. This was our second concert, so I did expect a higher level of musicianship as they’re learning how to listen and perform in a choir setting.”

   The concert was holiday themed and included both religious and non-religious classics such as “Silent Night” and “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”

   “I always felt really nervous before the performance, I was shaking standing up there,” said junior Katherine Milburn. “But it’s always fun getting up there with the choir, because it’s something you want to do, and you just have fun when you don’t listen to the people who’re gonna be negative.” 

   The concert included solos from seniors Grace Kurniawan who sang “Where Are You Christmas,” and Nicole Madi, who performed a rendition of “Jingle Bells” in Arabic, juniors Anna Barraclough, who sang “Silent Night” with piano accompaniment from Geoff Barraclough, math department, and Milburn, who performed “Snowman.” The setlist also showcased two duets, with seniors Kristine Duong and Trinh Huynh singing “Winter Things,” and senior Kelly Chung and junior Sherelene Guo performing “When We’re Together.” 

   Anna stated, “I love to sing and I’ve had past experience, but this is my first year with the Gabrielino chamber choir. Pitts likes shaking it up with the music and it’s fun practicing.” 

   As is tradition for the holiday concert, Gabrielino choir alumni joined the choir on the stage for the last song of the set, “Peace, Peace.” The rest of the audience was also encouraged to sing “Silent Night” during this piece.

   At the end of the concert, choir students announced it was Pitts’ birthday, singing “Happy Birthday” with the audience to celebrate.

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San Gabriel rings in holiday season