Russian Winter: Performers Play at Instrumental Winter Concert


Aaron Sha

The Full Orchestra performed its closing piece, “Finlandia, Op. 26” by Jean Sibelius, during the Winter Concert. This is one of the few musical pieces in the entire concert that included Symphonic Orchestra, Concert Orchestra and Symphonic Orchestra Winds & Percussions.

Aaron Sha, Business Team

Instrumentalists started the year off strong with a riveting performance during their Winter Concert, titled “Russian Winter,” on Jan. 30. With 14 winter-themed musical pieces, Jazz Ensemble, String Orchestra, Concert Band, Concert Orchestra, Symphonic Band, Symphonic Orchestra and Full Orchestra took turns demonstrating their musical talents, awing the audience until the last note of the finale was struck.

“In the past, almost all of our concerts have had vocal and instrumental; this was just an instrumental concert,” music teacher Desmond Stevens said. “And it was also different in that it was our Winter Concert, which we normally have in December with holiday-related music. But because we pushed it into January, we’re able to do stuff that wasn’t necessarily directly related to Christmas or Hanukkah or some sort of winter holiday.”

Performers put a lot of work into their performances, whether it was attending the six Full Orchestra after-school rehearsals to collaborate with other classes, practicing in class, becoming familiar with the creation of each musical piece or even choreographing the bowing on stage.

“It was the biggest concert we had so far at Portola High School Concert Hall,” junior and Symphonic Orchestra concertmaster Sanghyun Kim said. “Every group prepared many types of pieces, which made the concert more interesting even with the longer-than-normal length of this concert.”

Jazz Ensemble 1 delivered a powerful opening with the capturing tune of “Autumn Leaves,” by Joseph Kosma and arranged by Peter Blair. The performance featured an elegant solo performance from junior and pianist Jimmy Kang, enthralling the audience with the jazzy tune and infectious rhythm.

Following many other equally as compelling performances, was the concert’s first piece played by Concert Orchestra, Symphonic Orchestra and Symphonic Orchestra Winds and Percussion, “Overture to Nabucco” by Giuseppe Verdi and arranged by Sandra Dackow. The elegance of string paired with the power of winds and percussion brings the brilliantly uplifting tune to life, creating a performance the audience will never forget.

“The biggest lesson I learned from this concert was staying confident no matter what happens,” junior and saxophonist in Symphonic Band Shivank Gupta said. “I remember that a couple of measures before my solo, I became nervous and started feeling butterflies in my stomach. I could tell my tone and sound were affected. After that, I began playing with more emotion and strength, and I started sounding better and better.”

Finished with the Winter Concert, performers look forward to demonstrating their skills as well as expressing themselves through their art in the upcoming March festival.