On the cold night of Dec. 21, students, parents, and teachers packed the Masuk auditorium for the 2022 Winter Orchestra Concert, featuring dancers from the Newtown Centre for Classical Ballet & Voice. Shortly after the students took the stage, they began their first piece, Sinfonia in D Major by Johann Christian Bach. Once the piece had finished and the audience’s applause died down, strings director Lisa Homann welcomed the audience and thanked them for attending the performance.
When asked about the preparations that went into this show, Homann stated, “It has been a lot of fun, and a lot of stress, to put two art forms together. Dancers and live musicians are quite a challenge but it’s a great experience. We had to learn that we have to play faster because they can’t dance so slow.” She followed up by adding, “We are dealing with a lot of sick people, so that’s the stress of live performances but I know it’s going to all come together.”
The second piece was Lion City by Soon Hee Newbold, a piece originating from Singapore. Mrs. Homann explained to the audience the challenges that come with learning a song from a different country through the new harmonies they had to learn. The piece began very busy with several fast and different parts for each instrument, even using percussion at one point through a series of claps, slaps and stomps from the musicians. However, by the time the piece was done it was a much slower and relaxing melody.
Following Lion City was Legend of the Ghost Stallion, which took audiences to the Wild West as if they were galloping on a horse like a cowboy. The set closed with a Christmas melody by Leroy Anderson, who Homann informed the audience was originally from Connecticut, titled A Christmas Festival, featuring several recognizable Christmas carols.
After the Masuk Orchestra had finished their program, some students left the stage before Mrs. Homann introduced Sinfionetta, a smaller group that meets once a week after school. This group meets to learn more challenging music than usual and to experience playing in a smaller setting. The group played a beautiful set of three songs, Sanseneon by Robert S. Frost, Twilight Ceremonial by William Hofeldt, and Shabbat Shalom by Marsha Shaprio, which involved several difficult changes in rhythm and time signature.
Once the set had finished and a brief intermission had wrapped up, the Masuk Orchestra took the stage once more, this time accompanied by dancers from the Newtown Centre for Classical Ballet & Voice, who joined them to perform songs from The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
When asked about the performance and working with the Masuk Orchestra, dancer Grayce Amos, who played the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy, told Masuk Free Press, “I’m very excited to work with the orchestra. It’s always nice to have live accompaniment because it helps you dance more fully and perform more.” Regarding preparing for this performance, Amos added, “It’s been a little bit stressful because the studio [Newtown Centre for Classical Ballet & Voice] is on Christmas break, so we had to have extra rehearsals. But we all have gotten together and worked to make it the best we can.”
The Masuk Orchestra performed a series of scores from The Nutcracker, including The March, Mother Ginger, Arabian Coffee, Waltz of the Flowers and many more.
Homann finished by saying, “It has been an eye opener for my students that suddenly they have to be absolutely solid on tempo. We really learned a lot about how to prepare for that. They got to see the movement and how it goes along with the music and it has been a real great musical experience because they realize how this all goes together.”