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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Band, orchestra wow with Winter Concert

By Kaiya Suehiro | Staff Writer 

Yilin Yao | Tongva Times
SEASONAL STRINGS  Director Melissa Romero conducts the String Orchestra.

   On the night of Dec. 9, the Gabrielino Eagle Marching Regiment (GEMR) and String Orchestra held their Winter Concert inside the Goodson Theatre, making it their first live concert since the winter of 2019. The concert was scheduled from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and was split into two parts with a ten minute intermission. 

   During the first half, String Orchestra performed “Escape the Lost City,” “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Baltic Dance,” “Reminisces in Memoriam,” and “Idylls of Pegasus.” The piece “Reminisces in Memoriam” was composed and conducted by senior Gabriel Frank-McPheter, who plays viola in String Orchestra. 

   Frank-McPheter explained, “The title means remembering those we’ve lost. The piece is an emotional expression of some of the grief I went through last year losing some members of my family during the pandemic and a memoriam for everyone who lost people to COVID.” 

   Band continued the concert after the intermission. The second half opened with “Backyard Thoughts,” a snare drum solo composed and performed by senior Jacob Pena. 

   GEMR’s 2021 Field Show “The Music of Moulin Rouge” included the songs “Nature Boy,” “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” “One Day I’ll Fly Away,” and “Rhythm of the Night.” Junior Liam Dowell and senior Alan Zhu played as soloists. 

   The band performed in an area with limited space, so the members stood in place instead of marching. 

   “Standing gives you more time to pay attention to how your music sounds,” Dowell stated. “When you’re on the field you focus on controlling your upper body, so this will be a good time to pay attention to intonation.”

   This was the first in-person concert the band and orchestra had since the pandemic started. Audience members listened to live music instead of the pre-recorded videos that had become the standard during virtual learning. 

   Band and Orchestra Director Melissa Romero said, “There’s nothing like playing in front of a live audience. It’s always great to be able to have people there for you to listen to what you have been working on.” 

   The concert was indoors and masks were required. Wind players wore special musician masks and brass players used front-facing bell covers. 

   Instrumentalists did not have the opportunity to hear themselves play together in real time with virtual rehearsals last year. This year, they were able to spend more time on listening and communication skills.

Yilin Yao | Tongva Times
WARMING WINTER CONCERT  Melissa Romero conducts the school band during the Dec. 9 Winter Concert inside the Gary Goodman Theater, performing indoors due to weather forecasts of rain.

   “We need to communicate what we are trying to do in the music as a group versus as individuals,” stated Romero. “You have to have a certain level of rapport with the people that you’re playing with.” 

   “That was definitely a challenge at the beginning of the year that has worn off and they are very comfortable with one another now,” Romero explained.

   Band and orchestra practiced for months to prepare the pieces for the Winter Concert. Students worked on intonation, rhythm reading, and gaining confidence. 

   Audience members were able to go to the theatre lobby and fill out letters of encouragement or praise to the musicians. The letters were passed out to students the next day during their music period. 

   The concert was originally planned to take place outside between the theatre and the large gym, but it was moved inside the theatre mainly due to a rainy forecast on the night of the concert. 

   This year there is one band and one orchestra, instead of multiple, so the program was shorter than previous years. 

   Principal David Rynkiewicz stated, “I think [the concert] brought the best out of our students and brought the message of how great Gabrielino High School is [to the audience].” 

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Band, orchestra wow with Winter Concert