Dougherty’s musicians shine and display mastery in final concert of year

The musicians of Dougherty Valley High School concluded the musical year with the strongest, most energetic, and soulful and passionate performances of the year, from the dramatic intensity of Treble Clef’s performance of “Dies Irae” to the energy and rhythm of Jazz Band’s “Little Big Gumbo”.

The theme for the choir concert was “Old to New” and the singers aimed to show the audience “beyond the black and white notes on the page.” The choir found focus in the history and background of the pieces they sang, with “word to word translations” for foreign pieces. The program comprised of a diverse range of songs, performed in chronological order in terms of when they were composed, with songs from as early as the 1200’s to an Enya melody from the Lord of the Rings, released in 2001.

The young singers in Women’s Ensemble energetically began with the a cappella piece “A New Day” to showcase the unique theme. The second song was a romantic Italian number named “Lascia Ch’io Pianga.” An aria of George Handel’s from 1711, this piece was slightly slower, with a tremulous piano accompaniment, and displayed an impressive dynamic contrast. Third in line came “Hush, Little Baby,” a classic lullaby with a soothing melody, thought to have originated in America. A lilting rhythm and resounding piano set this piece as prominent in the night’s catalog.

Finally, an uplifting melody, “You Raise Me Up,” closed Woman’s Ensemble presence in the spotlight. Originally an instrumental piece in the vein of an Irish traditional called “Danny Boy,” “You Raise Me Up” proved itself to be a worthy closer to the dynamic performance of Woman’s Ensemble with its slowness and nostalgic mood. With variations in tone in soft-contrasts, “You Raise Me Up” defined Woman’s Ensemble’s last occupation of the stage in Dougherty’s theater for the last time in 2017. After Women’s Ensemble set the stage, Concert Choir performed “Die mit Tranen saen” and “The Ground.” The German piece from Heinrich Schutz in 1648 (one of the first composers in the European world to attract international recognition) defined itself as one of the most sophisticated, ethereal and delicate numbers and displayed the choir’s singing experience.

The third and final performing division, Treble Clef, performed “Ave Maris Stella” (a medieval piece taken from an ancient Latin text), “Dies Irae,” “Tundra,” and “Just the Way You Are/Just a Dream Mashup.” While the songs were all harmonizing and energetic, the crowd favorite, the strongest performance by choir in the concert, and possibly the year, was “Dies Irae,” a fiery and atmospheric song with dramatic piano work. Translated as “Day of Wrath”, the piece was originally the work of a Franciscan monk, transformed into a modern day rendition. With the intense and scientific atmosphere, including forceful piano playing to match, “Dies Irae” showed itself as a truly prodigious and extravagant piece.

After Treble Clef’s performance, the experienced Chamber Singers performed “The Blue Bird,” “Elegy” and “Son de Camaguey.” While the first two songs showcased captivating imagery, “Son de Camaguey” definitely brought it home with the lively and upbeat Cuban music. After the Chamber Singers, all the 33 seniors came up and talked about their future plans, which led into “May It Be,” a resonating and captivating piece to conclude the first night.

On the second night of the music concert procession, the Blue Orchestra, Silver Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra took the stage. First, the Blue Orchestra performed “Impact,” “A-Roving from ‘Suite for Strings’” and “My Shot from ‘Hamilton’”. The first two songs showed the musicians’ passion for playing their instruments and the piece from Hamilton had the crowd cheering with its vocal accompaniment. Afterwards, the Silver Orchestra performed “Sinfonia No. 10”, “Fantastic Beasts” and “Rhythm Dances”; these three unique pieces exhibited their musical talent. Finally, Chamber Orchestra took on the stage with their experience in orchestral music. Three standout pieces included “Romance from ‘Concerto No. 2,’” “Rondo from ‘Concerto in D Major’” and “Danzon No. 2.” The first standout piece displayed the harmony of all the instruments in the orchestra and featured a solo from Kendalia Spencer. The second was a refined piece and featured a solo from Jaclyn Thach. For the finale, the orchestra performed “Danzon No. 2” to conclude the orchestra’s spectacular performance.

On the third night of the concert procession, Concert Band and Symphonic Band put on an impressive show for the audience to see. Concert Band A began the show with three captivating pieces. All of their performed pieces showed their development since the concert, “A Night at The Movies”, in particular. This piece provided a truly cinematic journey, from the flute interludes to the hammering percussion.

To continue on with the cinematic feel, Concert Band 1 and 2 performed “Star Trek Through the Years.” Symphonic Band 2 also played three pieces, “American Flourish,” “Blue Ridge Reel” and “The Thunderer,” to conclude the third night.

On the final night, the cream of the crop of Dougherty’s instrumental music program delivered their swan song for the 2016-2017 school year. The spirit of the Roaring 20’s and F. Scott Fitzgerald sprung to life on the stage. Jazz band performed the wildest and most sophisticated instrumental pieces of the year, evoking Louis Armstrong and the energy of Little Richard. “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” was more mellow than others on the night, with “smooth, quiet spots” and fluctuations in tone and sound dynamic. Beginning loud, bold and brash and ending quietly, “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” shone, particularly in the tenor sax solo that concluded the piece. “Little Big Gumbo” followed — with its distinctive march-like style, immersed in the intensity, rhythm, and stylistic influences of New Orleans jazz and swing music. The song was peppered with multiple solos, from Shreyas Vajhalla on tenor sax, to Chris Yamada on trombone, to Derek Sun on alto sax, to Karen Bao on piano, returning to Arya Saksena on tenor sax, then finally concluding with Ryan Abdelmalek on trumpet. Jazz band ended their time in the spotlight and drew a close to another musical year at Dougherty with “Birdland”. A “loud wild jazz piece” of a caliber that would be played in clubs, “Birdland” was chock-full of soli, including yet another performance from Saksena. The swan song of Dougherty’s musicians was full of energy, style and eloquence, closing its many spring nights with brilliance and satisfaction. The swan song of Dougherty’s musicians was full of energy, style and eloquence, closing its many spring nights with brilliance and satisfaction.

Dougherty’s musicians came together to close a long, rewarding and sterling musical journey that both the stage and the audience found pleasure in.