Fine arts department prepares for upcoming holiday concert


The varsity ensembles (Band, orchestra, and choir) have a joint rehearsal for their upcoming concert. Photo by: Alyssa Martinez

Last year, the fine arts department took a try at putting all its musical ensembles on stage  — even spilling off onto the sides — at Taylor High School for one huge winter concert. Last year’s massive experiment will be repeated this year with a few changes on November 30 at 7 p.m. According to department members, the preparation has brought stress and excitement.

This year’s concert will separate the performers into two groups.

“All varsity groups will work together on five pieces while non-varsity will do their own  three pieces. Handbells will be doing some with varsity and non-varsity and then some on their own,” band teacher Ashley Siegrist said. “There was no chance to fit everyone on stage because so many have joined fine arts this year, so we had to switch it up.”

The fine arts department made official schedule changes so practice times would be more convenient.

“We had to move varsity choir to third period just so all varsity groups could work and practice together,” Siegrist said.

Senior band president Andy Valencia, 12, likes the change for this year’s concert.

“This plan is a lot better. There’s a lot more room and talent can shine better,”Valenciasaid.

Valencia favors the joint music concert.

“It’s still new, so it still has its flaws, but it’s working little by little,” he said. “The profit is bigger and the department is showcased a lot more.”

With lots of individual practices and different ensembles, music teachers made more preparations behind the scenes.

“We chose pieces before summer started to make sure every ensemble had challenging music. That was our main goal,” Siegrist said. “That’s the cool benefit of the split. Varsity had the chance to play challenging music on their level while non-varsity played music on their level.”

Siegrist and orchestra director Cynthia King needed teamwork to carry out their challenging roles.

“Ms. King and I wrote parts for instruments that didn’t have parts for certain pieces,” she said. “We also did a lot of listening to the actual music and looking at the score so we could conduct properly.”

Siegrist says the audience will see a full array of music that will keep up the holiday spirit.

“You’ll get to see a lot of types of instruments and groups that will perform. The music we chose was not just Christian but also secular, like ‘Sleigh Ride,’” she said. “It’s also nice to see all these people work together and there will be many varieties of music.”

Choir member Rochelle Pham, 10, joined due to last year’s impressive performance by the fine arts department and was influenced by 2012 graduate Eduardo Santiago.

“He told me about how choir was really fun and a great experience, and he sent me a video of last year’s performance,” Pham said. “After a little more persuasion, he got me to join choir.”

Although Pham has just recently joined, she has adjusted to demand of practice.

“I’m preparing by taking home my sheet music and Oovooing with a varsity choir friend to make sure I’m not off pitch  and to get some advice,” she said.

Practicing is an easy task for Pham, but staying eligible grade-wise for the concert proved difficult.

“It’s really different from anything I’ve done, because I thought it’d just be an ‘Oh, you have to perform this’ kind of thing,” she said. “The ‘no pass, no play rule’ is in effect here too.”

Rehearsals were also a satisfying yet challenging experience for Pham.

“The rehearsals were generally successful, but a bit tiring,” she said. “Ms. King would conduct and then she’d stop everyone to adjust an orchestra student; and the same went for Mrs. Drachenberg and the choir. It was easy when the choir was alone, but once we merged with everyone else, we found out that we had to over-enunciate a lot of things and sing louder, even though we were miked. But overall, the rehearsals went smoothly, and they were pretty fun.”

Siegrist believes people should attend to see how hard the music department has worked to make this a reality.

“It would be nice to support fellow students who worked so hard to do this concert and on top of that they have to balance the hard work given in Kerr with practicing their music,” Siegrist said.

Valencia agrees.

“We’ve practiced so much to show the talents we have,” he said. “We want people to see us.”