WORTHINGTON — More than 200 student musicians of Worthington High School will perform in the annual Region 2AA (Sub Section 10) Contest Concert at 7 p.m. Monday in the school gymnasium.
“This is the only concert of the year in which all the WHS music department curricular ensembles appear together,” said Jon Loy, WHS band director and music department chair.
“I always look forward to it for that reason; it’s a great opportunity for our audience to hear all the different groups at one time, and to witness how many kids participate in more than one ensemble.”
The 143 WHS Concert Band instrumentalists, barely more than one month removed from the marching band’s Peach Bowl tour, will open the concert with two selections.
“The band has worked very hard to come together as an ensemble in a short amount of time,” said Loy.
“Both of the pieces allow each section to shine and are very rhythmic, and they are on the Minnesota State High School League’s approved list for regional band performances.”
The first, “Jubilant Flourishes” by Travis J. Weller, offers majestic tones and a fanfare-type style, according to Loy.
“And our second piece, ‘Kinesis,’ gives a feeling of forward motion in a variety of settings,” he added.
“It will be really fun to listen to, with the band students achieving at a high level right now.”
WHS orchestra director Melanie Loy and choir director Kerry Johnson each lead two high school ensembles, and they are similarly pleased with the level of preparation their students have demonstrated.
With her 26 musicians in the underclass Varsity Strings, Melanie Loy has focused their efforts on an arrangement of Carl Stamitz’s “Sinfonia in D Major.”
“It’s a good standard classical piece,” she said, “and the students have liked working on the power of delivering this bold sound at the beginning.
“It builds dynamically throughout, and they’re learning to bounce their bows off the strings.
“’Sinfonia’ offers the full package of a grand opening with a lyrical melody in the middle wrapped up with a big conclusion.”
Holding in mind the WHS Orchestra’s upcoming Feb. 21 attendance at the Region 2AA orchestra festival (nine orchestras will be involved), Melanie Loy included three selections on Monday’s concert program.
“They’ll play the first three movements of ‘Concerto Grosso’ by Corelli and a contrasting ‘Fantasy on Amazing Grace,’” she mentioned.
“That [‘Amazing Grace’] is one of the most famous tunes ever, and this arrangement has lots of style variations within it.”
Finally, the WHS Orchestra will play the first movement of Edvard Grieg’s Holberg Suite.
“The Grieg is a joyful classical piece the kids really enjoy, with runs and dynamic contrasts,” said Melanie Loy.
“It makes a good closing number for our set.”
Johnson will present the two WHS curricular choral ensembles: the 42-member Varsity Choir and the 70 voices of the WHS Concert Choir.
“For this concert, I’ve chosen music from a state-approved list at difficulty levels appropriate for each ensemble,” Johnson explained.
“The musical repertoire demonstrates the highest degree of difficulty they can successfully perform.”
Therefore, the Varsity Choir is slated to sing “Bonse Aba,” a traditional Zambian song whose lyrics translate as, “All who sing have the right to be called children of God.”
“It involves some percussion and two soloists — Savannah Rodriguez and Say Moo,” said Johnson.
“’Bonse Aba’ is a great way to jump into four-part a cappella singing and is very lively.”
In contrast, the Varsity Choir’s second number, “Inscription of Hope,” is a quieter selection with lush chords and an inspiring message.
“Basically, it says that even when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, there is still hope,” said Johnson, adding that it introduces student vocalists to dissonance.
Her more experienced Concert Choir is tackling “Balleilakka,” sung in Tamil with origins in Tamil Nadu, the largest province in southern India.
“’Balleilakka’ has a Bollywood flavor to it; it’s extravagant and energetic, with lots of rhythm, movement and percussion,” Johnson described.
“The students have been having lots of fun with a middle section where the words fly by incredibly fast — it’s challenging, but fun.”
The Concert Choir’s second piece, “The Seal Lullaby,” is a contemporary composition by American composer Eric Whitacre.
“It’s gorgeous, and Whitacre originally composed it for a proposed Disney movie that didn’t pan out,” said Johnson.
“’The Seal Lullaby’ is flowing and evocative, and we’ve decided it’s imitative of waves; if we sing it right, you can almost hear the waves roll in and out.”
With about 80% of WHS music students involved in more than one curricular ensemble, Jon Loy stresses that isn’t possible everywhere.
“We feel very fortunate our district supports that type of participation,” he said.
“It’s nice that Worthington kids have lots of opportunity for music involvement.”
Added Johnson, “And this concert gives our audience a chance to hear these groups at their peak.
“For all of the ensembles, the music is at the top of their difficulty level,” continued Johnson.
“It’s challenging, and the kids have had to invest a lot into preparation, but they realize a huge reward in conquering it.”
The annual Region 2AA (Sub Section 10) Contest Concert of the Worthington High School music department takes place at 7 p.m. Monday in the gymnasium of WHS, 1211 Clary St., Worthington. The concert is free and open to the public.