Friday, February 11, 2000
CCHS and Chinese musicians perform in Boston
Delighted audience members were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime performance on Saturday, February 5, as musicians from Concord-Carlisle High School's jazz band, concert choir and concert band shared the stage with the Symphonic Band of the Middle School of Beijing University (MSBU) for a standing-room-only concert at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston.
The jazz band, itself preparing to visit China in April, started the afternoon out on a swinging note, playing selections from Chick Corea and Billy Strayhorn. The concert choir, 103 members strong, offered selections ranging from traditional folk air to gospel, concluding with a stunning "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
The MSBU band, one of the top bands in China, featured students age twelve to eighteen. They performed three selections: the Japanese "Asuka," the American "Praise Jerusalem!" and the Chinese "Princess Wen Cheng" Sheng Concerto. The latter, a Chinese favorite, was written especially for the MSBU concert band, and displayed the remarkable virtuosity of Mr. Weng Zhenrong, a master on the instrument known as the Sheng. The Sheng is a Chinese reed instrument that is mentioned in the Yin Dynasty manuscripts as early as 1400 B.C.E. It resembles a small, hand-held calliope and its sound can only be described as magical. The standing ovation that followed was inevitable. Taking the stage next, the CCHS concert band offered stunning renditions of Johann de Meij's "Symphony No. 1" and "March of the Steelmen" by Charles Belsterling. But the moment that proved that music can surmount all borders came when both the MSBU and members of the CCHS concert band joined together to play "Stars and Stripes Forever" as a finale. Midway through the performance, a tiny Chinese girl rose from her seat, bowed to the audience, and executed a rendition of the piece's famous piccolo solo that would have moved Arthur Fiedler to tears. It brought down the house, leaving the members of the audience both exhausted and thrilled to have been part of this international afternoon.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito