A look behind the curtain at the RV Winter Instrumental Concert

A behind the scenes look on some of the hurdles that were overcome for the Winter Concert

Sophie Shram, Arts & Culture Editor

After a year in isolation, the RV music program finally made a grand return with a live performance on December 16. The program featured a repertoire with well loved holiday pieces such as “Sleigh Ride” and “Amazing Grace.” 

The amount of time and effort that each musician spent diligently perfecting their parts is clear. Playing as a group is a team effort and is made possible by each individual spending hours of time practicing to perfect their skills. There aren’t any shortcuts to mastering an instrument, it just takes a lot of time, practice and patience. 

The program featured three groups, fall concert band, orchestra and wind ensemble. While each ensemble had an amazing sound and tone that seemed effortless, there were many challenges behind the scenes that needed to be overcome, both individually and as a team. 

“It was certainly a challenge,” stated Conductor David Britton. “So many of our students came in from middle school and really didn’t get a lot of experience playing with other musicians last year. So for a lot of kids, it’s been around two years or so since they’ve had the opportunity to make music with other people. Nevertheless,  being able to do that and get that together was just exhilarating, and seeing the turn out was really great. Being able to see the support and also knowing just how far all the students have come from the beginning of the school year up to now is just a real hype.”

“We did a lot better than I expected considering how low staffed we were,” said senior orchestra member Laren Daw. “We were dealing with a lot of new players this year who were not used to performing at RV and not used to our repertoire.”

Additionally, Daw accomplished an incredible feat this year by learning to play the double bass from scratch, while previously, she performed with violin and piano.

“This year, for me personally it was exciting, and different because I played a different instrument this year. It was a fun challenge, trying to juggle the process of learning a new instrument while playing pieces at a level better fit for experienced players. There were definitely some struggles, but I’m proud of the improvements I made in the time I had,” she said.

“Performing live was nerve-racking,” stated freshman Tra’sean Nicholas, who played a major solo in “Amazing Grace.” “Practicing in rehearsal is one thing, but being on stage playing a melody that almost everyone knows made me very nervous about messing up, and this being my first ‘real’ concert with Wind Ensemble, I didn’t want to mess up.

Nichols also noted the challenges to preparing along the way. “While preparing for the concert, the main physical challenge I faced surprisingly was breathing,” he said. “The goal of the solo was to have the notes as connected as possible which would require me to go periods of time on one breath while sustaining a good tone quality. For mental challenges, I think the main one was confidence. It took a while to reach the confidence level I wanted before performing in the concert.  I’m very grateful that I was given the opportunity to perform this solo and that I’m also grateful I had an amazing band that made the song nothing less than beautiful.”

This year’s winter instrumental concert was nothing short of awe-inspiring. The amount of effort put in day after to day by each musician is exceptional. The concert had a wide variety of styles of music, from upbeat and lively to soft and lyrical. It’s a great place for students to demonstrate their talents and inspire others to join the program. I personally really enjoyed every performance, and cannot wait to see what the Spring concert has in store for us.