The pianist gazes out toward the audience – twenty, maybe thirty thousand members he presumes – and proceeds to take his seat at the glossy Yamaha piano. He slowly rolls his shoulders backward and exhales slowly, clearing his mind of distractions and focusing his attention solely on the sheet music that faces him. His fingertips gently touch the middle-C octave of the piano keys while he perches his knuckles upward, anticipating Ms. Chambers’ signal to commence his piece.
This pianist is just one unit of the 35 member Jesuit-Ursuline orchestra, which unveiled their rhythmic genius at their annual Lessons & Carols concert on December 3. The ninety-minute concert featured a variety of seasonal pieces and traditional Christian hymns such as We Three Kings and O Come O Come Emmanuel.
Pianist Ly Huang ’20 commented on the orchestra’s outstanding performance: “Our chemistry really played a role in our performance on Sunday. The personalities of the members of the team jive really well together. On Sunday, we were able to come together as one, cohesive unit and all of our sounds blended perfectly while we performed.”
Providing a more analytical evaluation of their performance, violinist Will Nichols ‘20 added: “We kept a consistent tempo and our parts complemented each other to bring out the important harmonies and melody. The song selection was nice, we had a Mannheim Steamroller arrangement of O Come O Come Emmanuel, a prelude to an American folk hymn, and some other Nativity-related pieces.”
Though the musicians enjoyed showcasing their great talent, Nichols noted that he relished most in their daily practice and group synergy: “My favorite part of the orchestra is getting to know people from all grades at Jesuit and work together towards a common goal in a fun, relaxed way.”
Mary Chen, a junior at Ursuline and third-year violinist in the orchestra, particularly noted the musical genius of Ms. Jane Chambers, the coordinator and conductor. “Ms. Chambers did an excellent job conducting. She kept the choir and the orchestra on the beat.” She additionally commented on the concert’s superb song selection: “I really liked the song choices this year. We had five pieces, four of them carols. We had a variety, and some we played by ourselves, others we played with the choir.”
With a motivated set of musicians and an incredible director, the Jesuit-Ursuline orchestra continues to gain reputability and offers a strong foundation of skilled underclassmen, a promising group for the future of the organization. Though they wrapped their successful semester with their impressive Sounds of the Season concert, their Spring concert series is just around the corner.