Concert success result of talent, hard work.
Story and photos by Tara Hefferan
Newaygo Bands held the annual Winter Concert Wednesday night at Newaygo High School. This popular community event had family and friends filling the Cafetorium to standing room capacity well in advance of the 6:30 PM show time.
Setting a festive atmosphere, the Newaygo Jazz Band played both before and between the stage performances, kicking off the night with a “funky” version of “Deck the Halls.” Director of Bands Branden Listh officially opened the concert by welcoming the audience, inviting them to enjoy the night’s musical journey, and thanking them for their support of both the students and program.
Assistant Band Director Megan Funk then introduced the 6th Grade Band, noting that just a few months ago these students were picking up their instruments for the first time, but now they were able to put on their first performance. This is a remarkable achievement. Led by Ms. Funk, these young musicians played seven short pieces, including a mix of traditional songs and folk songs.
Next up was the combined 7th/8th grade band, conducted by Mr. Listh, who invited both the band and the audience to take a deep breath to shake out any nerves. Then, the music began with a rousing rendition of “Rockin’ on the Housetop.” This was followed by two other pieces that kept the crowd entertained.
The headline performance was last, given by the high school’s Newaygo Symphonic Band. Mr. Listh shared that the Symphonic Band began practicing as soon as marching band season ended in early November. They are preparing for upcoming events, including Solo and Ensemble in February and High School Festival in March.
Looking sharp in formal black dresses and crisp tuxedos, the Symphonic Band performed “Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song)” first. It was a powerful and enjoyable Christmas tune that highlighted the band’s many talented musicians, including oboist Amarice Marvin, who was a featured soloist. This was followed by the energetic song “Celtic Carol” that had the crowd dancing in their seats. Here, Sophia Wilder was featured as a soloist on the piccolo.
The Winter Concert was a great success, showcasing the local talent and hard work of Newaygo’s students. The progression of performances—from novice to experienced—made evident all the learning that happens between middle and high school. With community and school support, Newaygo Bands produces true musical artists.
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