Students perform at winter concert


Students in the Concert Choir perform as the finale of the Winter Concert.

by Abby Stern, Staff Writer

Over 150 students participated in the winter concert on Wednesday, Dec. 11.  Students in the band, orchestra, and choirs showcased their talents to a large audience of parents, teachers, students, and administrators.

The concert opened with the Chamber Orchestra directed by music teacher John Diomede.  The orchestra played three songs, including a finale of “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay.  

Sophomore, Molly Auxter, has been a part of the orchestra for two years.  She has been playing the clarinet for seven years, and this was her seventh concert with the high school.

“I love being part of a community that’s slowly growing, and I love getting to be here to watch it become so much bigger,” Auxter said.

The orchestra and band have both been slowly increasing in size over the last few years.  Choir teachers Carl Helder and Ana Lilikas have taken additional roles this year as directors of the band and orchestra respectively and are helping to grow the programs.

“We’re just trying to build the program up, and we’ll continue throughout the years,” Lilikas said.  

John Diomede conducts the orchestra.

After the Chamber Orchestra, the Women’s Choir took the stage. This is a select Choir of only 31 girls from all grades. They practice weekly, and the group is decorated with awards from the WorldStrides competition that they attend every year. The company performed two songs, “You Are My Music” by Laura Farnell, and “Muié Rendêra” by C.A. Pinto Fonseca, a piece based on two Brazilian folk songs.

The Women’s Choir, along with all other choirs at the school, is co-directed by Helder and Lilikas. The pair was responsible for the majority of the acts performed at the concert.

The Women’s Choir sings “Muié Rendêra” by C.A. Pinto Fonseca.

After the Women’s Choir, the string ensemble performed two songs, directed by Lilikas. 

“It’s interesting because there’s only five of them, so I definitely had to adapt and figure out how to incorporate those instruments into a performance piece,” Lilikas said.

The string ensemble was then joined by other musicians to make up the complete Concert Band. The Concert Band performed a medley of music from the 1970s, featuring solos from juniors Malika Sinha on the trumpet and Matthew Ferrari on the baritone saxophone.

Helder has enjoyed working with the band this year. He sees a bright future for the group and anticipates much growth in the coming years.

“The program was challenging, but the music was also fun. So challenging and fun is always a great recipe for success,” Helder said.

The Concert Band performs their 1970s medley.

The Concert Band was followed by the Chamber Choir, also co-directed by Helder and Lilikas.  The group is made up of 35 co-ed members.

The Chamber Choir performed two songs, including “Quicksand Years” featuring a solo from sophomore Tim Hillyer.

Helder and Lilikas worked together to create a welcoming environment where students feel they can express themselves. According to students, they created an atmosphere where students feel they can be heard, valued, and appreciated.

“I love the feeling of camaraderie,” Hillyer said. “Everyone is able to do what is asked of them because everyone feels that they can be themselves.”

The Chamber Choir sings “Quicksand Years.”

The group sang four songs.  One of the songs, “Shalom Rav” by Ben Steinberg, featured senior Dylaney Sabino and junior Meg Whyte as soloists.  

“Mr. Helder and Ms. Lilikas are awesome and super-inclusive, and they make a fun environment for learning music,” Whyte said.

The Concert Choir’s next song, Gloria in Excelsis, written by Wolfang Mozart, also featured student soloists as a quartet. The group had a singer from each voice part in order to create a full, rich sound. The four soloists were seniors Caitlin O’Brien, Sofia Nolfo, David Viggiano and sophomore Lucas Van Schoonhoven.

This is Viggiano’s first year in the Concert Choir, although he has experience singing with his youth group choir. He said that he enjoys working with Helder and Lilikas and working on improving his singing.  Choir allows Viggiano and his friends to “bond over music and share a great experience.”

“I’m taking a lot of academically challenging classes, so it’s nice to take that Period 3 breath and lay back and sing some songs,” Viggiano said.  

Lilikas agrees that choir class can be a welcome break for students with their rigorous course loads.  “Even though we work really hard, it’s a space where you guys can relax a little bit and express yourselves and just be kids,” Lilikas said.

  Both teachers feel that there is something very special about the Concert Choir and how it helps students along with how special it is when the whole group comes together.

“You work for such a long time on everybody’s individual part,” Helder said.  “We finally get all those individual students… together into one room to try to make something magical happen.”

Once the Concert Choir had finished, students from the Choir Board of Officers came up to thank their teachers for all their hard work. One of these students was senior Sofia Nolfo. She has been in choir all four years of high school, and she became a choir officer this year.

She thinks that choir has helped to make her a more responsible person as well as a better singer, and some of her best friends in high school were made through choir.

“I’ve also built a very good relationship with the two choir teachers,” Nolfo said. “They have not only been role models for me in music, but they’ve also just been great role models for me as people. I feel like I can trust them, and I can learn a lot about life and music from them.”

Lilikas also feels this connection with her students. She loves “connecting with the kids” and “creating these relationships that sometimes last over four years.” 

“Building those relationships and seeing how you guys grow as people is one of my favorite parts of teaching choir,” Lilikas said.

The night ended with the traditional performance of singing “Encore” by Carl Nygard.  Alumni in the audience were invited to join the students on the risers to sing the night to a close.