Chinook School's Winter Music Concert Available on YouTube
December 30, 2020
With a link uploaded to Chinook School’s Facebook page on December 16, people were invited to the Chinook High School’s Winter Music Concert available on YouTube. This announcement suggested that viewers could enjoy the concert from the comfort of their own homes.
The concert opened with the seventh and eighth grade bands playing “Jingle Bells,” an instrumental piece arranged by Ed Sueda. That musical number was followed by a series of excerpts from the “Nutcracker Suite” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and arranged by Brian Balmages. After their performance of “Dragon Slayer” by Rob Grice, the junior high band’s time on stage concluded.
Next up, was the junior high choir. Their opening song was “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” arranged by Roger Emerson and considered one of the most popular doo-wop songs ever. Sung in the recognizable call-and-response form of the doo-wop style, this song was made popular by Disney’s film “The Lion King.” To sing in the doo-wop style, phonetic or nonsense words are used as rhythmic parts in harmonic arrangements.
From the cinematic world, the junior high choir transitioned to a biblical love song with “Dodi Li” by Nira Chen, arranged by Doreen Rao. Singing in Hebrew, the choir performed this Israeli song in two-part treble voices accompanied by guest pianist, Carmaine Hayes, a former music director for the Chinook School District.
Providing a multicultural experience for these young singers, the lyrics of “Dodi Li” are based on a song from the Old Testament “Song of Solomon,” and its rhythmically rising melody is reinforced by a repeated horah rhythm.
The horah was a slow dance often practiced in Romania by Jews and non-Jews alike. It is danced in a circle or a line, on a triple-meter rhythm (3/8 or 3/4), with an accent on the first and third steps. The first step is short and the third is stretched, giving the impression of an irregularity or lameness. Those listening to the singers perform can detect this cadence.
The choir’s final selection was “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” written by Albert Hague and arranged by Jeff Funk.
Following the junior high portion of the concert, the high school band took the stage to play three of the movements from the programmatic piece “Prehistoric Suite” by Paul Jennings. Each movement is titled: I: Stegosaurus, II: Brontosaurus, and IV: The Battle.
To qualify as programmatic, a musical score is often written to convey a narrative or to depict a scene of some sort. Given that criteria, listeners will find themselves either conjuring a story line or picturing a scene or a series of scenes suggested by the title.
According to Chinook Schools’ Music Director, Devin Morris, “Prehistoric Suite” was chosen specifically for its programmatic aspects and challenges. In order to proficiently play this piece, the musicians had to master slurs, staccatos, accents, crescendos, decrescendos, ritards (a gradual decrease in tempo), and various dynamic levels. Designed to reinforce these fundamentals of band and to expose musicians to different kinds of music, the Jennings piece focuses on dinosaurs. This focus provides a character to which students can link the music’s mood and story.
Because he wanted his students to learn how to depict and analyze titles in an accurate way, Morris guided them through the various movements with his explanation: The first movement, written with a lot of fourths and fifths, opens with trumpets, makes a transition, repeats, and then shifts into a new melody with flutes, trumpets, and other instrumentals. This movement represents the graceful herbivores so that they can be contrasted later with the warring carnivores.
“The piece becomes less abstract if the dinosaur characteristics are paired with the music,” Morris explained.
In movement two, Dentin DePriest on trombone and Izayah Abayomi on bass guitar play glissandos—gliding from one pitch to another—before they are joined by the textured melody performed with the saxophones, trumpets, and horns.
The fourth movement starts with a frenzy of notes leading into a fairly dissonant chord, all intending to depict the chaos of a battle between Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops.
After the Jennings’ composition, the band played “Thrift Shop” by Ben Haggerty and Ryan Lewis, arranged by Ward Miller.
They closed the concert with “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” by Randy Brooks and arranged by Mike Story.
The Chinook High School’s Winter Music Concert is available on YouTube, using the link, https://youtu.be/Rwl9BaBW9jE. The concert is also accessible through a link on the school’s Facebook page. Unfortunately, due to technical problems, the high school choir could not be featured.
Across town, Meadowlark Elementary School students performed their December 2020 Concert on a scheduled Zoom Meeting on December 16 at 8:30 a.m.
“The elementary Zoom Concert was really just a way for students to play for other students and their families, giving them a concert experience,” Morris stated.
About the music program’s performances, Morris had this to say: “I thought all of my students did a fantastic job with their music, especially in the more illustrative pieces. They did very well playing everything that was written while working together to throw in some of their own interpretations. Our goal for the next concert is to include some showcasing moments with solos!”