Choir and band students join together for Winter Concert


With 153 students, the Concert Choir is the largest choir in the school. All choirs are under the direction of Mr. Carl Helder and Ms. Anna Lilikas.

by Patricia Whyte, Staff Writer

A Charlie Brown Christmas, South African folk songs, and Beethoven’s symphonies. All were featured at this year’s Winter Concert.

Students from the high school choirs and bands joined together on Dec. 14 and performed in the annual Winter Concert. The concert featured the Women’s Chorale, the Chamber Choir, the Concert Choir, the Concert Band, and the Strings Ensemble.

The Women’s, Chamber, and Concert Choirs are under the direction of Mr. Carl Helder and Ms. Anna Lilikas. This was Ms. Lilikas’s first concert as director of the choirs.

“It’s interesting to see all of you guys come together and work cooperatively. It’s really nice to see,” Lilikas said.

The Women’s Chorale was the first to perform in the concert. They opened with a contemporary piece entitled Velvet Shoes by Randall Thompson and proceeded with a piece called Tum-Balalaika arranged by Maurice Gardner.

“[Tum-Balalaika] took longer for us to learn because it’s much more intricate,”  Lilikas said.

To the surprise of the audience, the Women’s Chorale also performed an a cappella piece that wasn’t listed in the program. The piece was entitled Scars to Your Beautiful by Alessia Cara and featured soloist Danielle Felicioli and beatboxer Kevin Pinzoni.

Mr. John diomede conducting the middle school and high school students of the Chamber Orchestra. This was the Chamber Orchestra’s first performance at the Winter Concert.

For the first time, the Winter Concert featured the Chamber Orchestra. The Chamber Orchestra features 13 middle and high school students under the direction of Mr. John Diomede. The Chamber Orchestra is entirely made up of string instruments, as opposed to wind, brass, and percussion instruments like the Concert Band.

“This group has been around for many years, even before my time here in Glen Rock,” Diomede said. “At the end of my first year, the former principal, Mr. McCarthy, knew I taught strings in the middle school and asked if I would be interested in taking over the Chamber Orchestra as the former adviser was retiring.”

The Winter Concert  was the Chamber Orchestra’s first public performance this year. In the past, they have performed for the 25 Years Club in May.

“We wanted to start branching out and this was our first performance at a high school concert,” Diomede said.

The Orchestra has been rehearsing every Monday before school since the beginning of October. They performed two pieces, Beethoven’s Symphony No.1  and a contemporary selection entitled Storm.

“Both pieces had their own challenges, but the Beethoven was probably the most challenging of the two. It has more technical challenges,” Diomede said.

The Chamber Orchestra plans to play at the high school again in May for the annual Spring Concert.

After the Chamber Orchestra was the Chamber Choir. The Chamber Choir is an audition based choir that meets on Monday nights and is directed by Mr. Helder and Ms. Lilikas. The choir is split into four voice parts: soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Caitlin Rundle (‘18) has been a member of this choir since her sophomore year.

“I really enjoy the rehearsal process. I love learning music, and performing it is great and everything, but I love learning it, especially with other people,” Rundle said.

The Chamber Choir performing My Heart’s In the Highlands arranged by Donna Gartman Schultz. The Celtic ballad featured violinist Kenny Mao (‘17) along with the choir.

The choir performed two pieces, one entitled Ev’ry Time I Feel The Spirit and another called My Heart’s In The Highlands. Having a new director of the choir added new dimension to the music and the way the choir performs, Rundle said.

“She brought a different take on songs. She’s very energetic. She wanted us to get into the music more and she challenged us to be more involved with our music,” Rundle said.

After the Chamber Choir came the Concert Band. Under the direction of Mr. Jeffrey Kurland, the 18- piece band consists of  flutes, clarinets, alto and tenor saxophones, trumpets, and percussion instruments. The band performed three pieces called As Eagles Soar, Charlie Brown Christmas, and E pluribus Unum.

“Who doesn’t love Charlie Brown?” Kurland said regarding both his favorite and most difficult piece to perform. “It’s jazzy, and not everybody has a lot of experience playing jazz.”

The concert band rehearses up to twice a week in order to prepare for the Winter Concert.

“We start rehearsing the concert band music after Homecoming, because up until then we’re doing all marching band stuff,” said Kurland, who is also the director of the marching band. This year’s Winter Concert was Kurland’s fourteenth at the high school.

The largest act of the concert is the final act, the Concert Choir. The choir is made up of 153 students and is under the direction of Helder and Lilikas. Together, the two directors selected four pieces for the Concert Choir to perform this year, including Ladate Dominum by Mozart, River In Judea by Linda Marcus, Ani Ma Amin, a hebrew folk song, and Tshotsho losa, a South African folk song.

Ani Ma’amin I love because it has all the legato lines, and that song has a really deep history,” Lilikas said. The song meaning “I Believe” was frequently sung by victims of the Holocaust.

Tshotsho losa I really love because it’s upbeat, the students really love it, and we had the djembe, and it’s about freedom,” Lilikas said. The piece featured a djembe drum instead of a piano accompaniment.

Students in the Concert Choir rehearse every day during their class period and begin learning their music in September.

At the end of every concert, the choir sings a song called Encore and alumni of the choir is invited on stage to sing with the rest of the choir students.

“There was just a very happy atmosphere,” Rundle said.