Winter concert a great first experience for WA freshmen performers


Anna Jain

The WA choir, one of many musical groups, performing in the Winter Concert.

Peier Li, Staff Writer

The Westford Academy band, choir, and orchestra recently performed their first concert of the 2022-23 school year on Dec. 15 in the PAC. It was also the first-ever concert the freshmen participated in. Overseen by Adam Shekleton, the band teacher, Karen St. George, the choir teacher, and Ken Culver, the orchestra teacher, the concert lasted two and a half hours, taking an hour longer than initially planned due to what was described as issues with transitions.

The choir was first up in the performance. They have rehearsed since the beginning of the school year in September and the freshmen were excited to finally sing without the mandatory mask restrictions. They sang five songs over a 20-25 minute period, and a piece they performed, Prayer of the Children, relates to current global events, the Ukraine and Russia conflict.

“The concert was such a success for our choir,” freshman Joanna Finney said. “For all the amount of hard work that we invested into all the pieces, I’m really glad that we were able to share it with everyone in our community and spread important messages through our songs.”

Following the choir, the orchestra was set to go. While the pandemic did not significantly affect their past performances, the freshmen were finally looking forward to being able to perform in front of a full audience, something that had been restricted during the pandemic. They played four pieces, Carol of the Bells, Arlington Sketches, Maid in Bedlam, and Holiday Favorites. Carol of the Bells and Arlington Sketches were upbeat songs, while Maid in Bedlam was a relatively nice and mellow song. As for Holiday Favorites, it was a mix of various genres and emotions.

“Even though it lasted longer than it should have, it was worth it,” freshman Bao-Nhi Vu said. “It was very fun being our first combined rehearsal and we are all so glad that this concert was finally the year we got to go back to normal and combine with the choir and band.”

The band then played and performed their respective planned pieces. Like the choir, the freshmen band members were thrilled to finally be able to ditch the awkward and finicky specialized masks that were required years prior, as well as have a more elite and diverse music selection. Just days before the concert, they had their first rehearsal as a full band, and have been working vigorously to perfect their craft since. The band includes flutes, clarinets, trumpets, trombones, percussions, and more. The six pieces will highlight each section’s individual uniqueness in tone and pitch.

“Each piece had its own vibe and feel to it,” freshman Anna Driscoll said. “My personal favorite was Halcyon Hearts by Katahj Copley because it was really pretty.”

At the end of the concert, the band, orchestra, and choir performed a sing-along for the whole audience, with lyrics so that everyone could join in with the holiday spirit. For the freshmen, this was a great first experience and introduction to the high school performance scene, especially since it had been years since they had a standard concert due to the pandemic. Many described the production and performance quality as more detailed and professional compared to their middle school experiences, and are excited to continue pumping out pieces for future concerts to come.

“Our choir teacher brought herself to tears after getting to conduct a choir post-Covid again,” Finney said. “She has been our biggest motivator and a constant source of comfort for all our choir members no matter how much stress we may be going through before concert season. I don’t know what we would do without her as our chorus teacher.”