Performance of duel purpose

Chloe Guillot

Instrumental concert is performance and preparation

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Jacky Chen, The Falcon

As the end of fall quarter inches closer and closer, the music department prepares to enter their busiest time of the year.

For wind ensemble director Danny Helseth and symphony orchestra director Julia Tai, the month of November means that it is time to show off the work that their students have been preparing for since the first day of school.

The first opportunity to showcase their talent comes in the form of the Instrumental Concert, a night dedicated to the symphony orchestra and wind ensembles. With only a month and a half to assemble and direct an ensemble comprised of both new and old students, Helseth admits that structure is important.

“You have this goal of November 9, the day of the concert. We have chosen to prepare three pieces, so there is our goal,” Helseth said. “Then it is my responsibility as a director to set benchmarks along the way for each of these pieces.”

Not only do these musicians have to prepare for the Instrumental Concert, they must also work on pieces for the Sacred Sounds of Christmas concert, which takes place on Nov. 25.

In order to compensate for the short window between these concerts, Helseth and Tai must choose a selection of songs that can be performed at both shows. For both directors, the time that goes into learning a piece is important to the process.

“I need to take into account all the music we need to learn in a quarter, the amount of rehearsal time we have, and how they can fit together nicely as a cohesive concert program,” Tai said.

In addition to considering the complexity of the music and the upcoming Christmas concert, Helseth has also chosen an overarching theme to drive his song selection. This year, Helseth aims to select songs that come from composers of all ethnicities in order to highlight the diversity of music.

“We are celebrating diversity in music by essentially going away from white, male composers,” Helseth said.

“I wanted to explore what communities have done with this western, traditionally white-dominated composer role as a wind band.”

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First-year Andreya Bell played the flute at the concert at the First Free Methodist. Jacky Chen, The Falcon

For the directors, getting past the first part of the year is a benchmark of its own. Taking a group of individuals who have never worked together as a group and transforming them into a cohesive group is a process that the directors must undertake every year.

“The first concert of the school year is always challenging to program, because we don’t know how many players we will have in the orchestra until the audition, which happens the day before fall quarter begins,” Tai said.

However, by the time that guests filed into the First Free Methodist church for the big concert, the ups and downs of the first part of the year faded away and the music took over. Students filed on to the stage, the audience sat in silence and melodious sounds filled the room for almost two hours.

“You hope, after the first two weeks, that you can make it through this and have a positive music experience at the end of all this,” Helseth said.

With limited time, careful song selection and a brand new ensemble, the music department had a lot to accomplish in the weeks leading up to the Instrumental Concert.

As they prepare for Sacred Sounds, the music department much more to achieve in the future.

But first-year students, like wind ensemble member Olivia Helbach, have a sense of hope for the new year.

“It was really fun to play with a new group of people. I can already tell the potential our group has in just the past month and a half that we’ve been together,” Helbach said.