The Naugatuck High School Winter Concert was presented on Dec. 19 but the date on the program read the day before. The concert date had been postponed one day so that it would not conflict with the candlelight vigil held on the Naugatuck Green. Many music lovers and parents were present for this annual event and their behavior during the performance was commendable for the most part, even without reminders about concert decorum.
The hour-long concert began with the small concert band that only filled two rows of orchestra seats and they played the familiar "Secret Agent Man" by Johnnie Vinson and "Greensleeves." This group was directed by the personable Robert Hughes. They were followed by the small group of chorus students in garnet robes directed by Mahlon Peterson that sang "Hallelujah" (as in Shrek,) "Anything Goes" (as in Broadway show tune) and a beautiful arrangement of the iconic "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother."
The combined symphonic and concert bands (read as "more musicians,") who opened with the classic Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride." This was followed by a wonderful mix of theatre and music in a reading of "Twas' the Night Before Christmas" with theater regular Preston Bogen as the narrator. Mr. Bogen sat in a wicker chair, covered himself with a blanket and read the classic story from a children's book in his own inimitable manner. He paused frequently so that the band could play a few bars of a well-known piece of music to "illustrate" the story with music. The band even had to provide coughing and laughing on cue, and they did so in perfect time. This piece by Jack Bullock was charming and very funny and was a hit with the audience.
The symphonic/marching band took to the stage to "warm up" with a piece called "Choral from Jupiter." They then treated us to the music that afforded the marching band what Mr. Hughes called "a tremendous season." The three movements made up "Celestial Motion" and for me it was goose bump inducing. The drum majors, Courtney Els and Megan McSweeney, led the teens through these complicated pieces and the small percussion section was impressive.
The 29 Chamber singers were up next and they performed three beautiful pieces a capella dressed in tuxedos and long black dresses. "Vobis Datum Est" and "Salmo 150" required the singers to sing in another language and "Prayer" featured the words of Mother Theresa. This select group of singers never fail to impress me.
Members of the large concert choir joined almost all of the chamber singers to perform three pieces. "Hallelujah, Amen" by G.F. Handel featured intricate entrances while "Rejoice in the Lamb" contained tricky lyrics. "Geographical Fugue" by Ernst Toch was spoken in rhythm at rapid fire speed and must have been difficult to memorize.
The final numbers were performed by every singer in the music department as the combined choir. I always think of it as a sea of humanity that fills the risers in front of the stage. A unique arrangement of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Paul Simon opened the set, followed by "Blue Christmas." Audience members were invited to join in on "Silver Bells" by gender and for the "Hallelujah Chorus" former members the NHS music program "whether you sang with Mr. P, Bill or his father" were invited to join the chorus. Many singers did just that and one looked like she may have been directed by the elder Mr. Davis. This was followed by lots of hugs.
Another wonderful concert pulled off by dedicated faculty and staff at the high school. I was very proud of my young musician as he performed in his fifth concert in seven days, this time with the Chamber Singers.