Friday, January 17, 2003
Japan Night at Symphony Hall a resounding success CCHS and Sapporo bands perform for enthralled audience
If you weren't there, you might find it hard to believe that a high school concert could be anything like Japan Night at Symphony Hall Friday night, January 10. This was a professional-quality concert by the outstanding high school bands of Concord-Carlisle and Sapporo, Japan.
Combined concert bands
The bands of Concord-Carlisle High School performed first, followed by the Sapporo Shiroishi Symphonic Wind Ensemble of Sapporo, Japan. It was when the two concert bands combined, however, that the 170 musicians brought down the house with four pieces that included a fun salsa number, "At the Mambo Inn", and ended with a rousing "Stars and Stripes Forever."
One of the highlights of the evening was a hauntingly beautiful solo in "Monomoke Hime" Medley, performed on an occarina by Kasumi Ito of Sapporo. Diminutive Ito filled the hall with soft, pure tones that brought tears to many eyes. In all their six pieces, Sapporo's quality of tone and expression kept the audience enthralled. "Every note was so clean and every musical phrase had such direction and purpose," said Jan Kinmonth, a member of the Boston Philharmonic.
The Sapporo Shiroishi Ensemble was also fun to watch. They began and ended each piece with a well-timed flourish and seemed to move as one in a sea of red jackets and black hair. The basses, in particular, were almost choreographed in their movements, and everyone sat with perfect posture and contained facial expression. They concluded their portion of the program with selections from John Williams' themes of Harry Potter, E.T., and Star Wars, their horns pointed skyward signaling each section to its feet, until all of the band stood in conclusion and bowed to an audience that spontaneously rose to its feet with resounding applause.
Concord-Carlisle's Concert Band, under the direction of Al Dentino, also used a John Williams number, "The Cowboys" to conclude their section of the program. They played it with remarkable energy and spirit, contrasting well with the modern "Conversations with the Night" by Andrew Boysen, Jr., and displaying a full range of their capabilities. Lingering notes by trombone player, Jessie Nock, rose above the well-blended and balanced music of the Boysen. The piece also featured Stephen Yu (clarinet), Jennie Siegel (oboe), and Nora Carr (flute), Lora Hogan (piccolo), and Zane Schweer (tenor saxophone).
It was a special night for all the musicians and an opportunity to showcase the jazz talents of Carl Nadler (tenor saxophone), Ben Phillippo (alto saxophone), Satoi Kozawa (trumpet) of Sapporo,and the Stars and Stripes piccolos, Stephanie Abend, Laura Condon, Meredith Eaton, Lora Hogan, Jennifer Morse, and Jennifer Zuk of Concord-Carlisle, and Kasumi Ito of Sapporo.
The Repertory Band of Concord-Carlisle opened the concert with a vigorous rendition of "The Flight of the Pegasus". Mr. Dentino directed this as well as "The Connecticut March", and introduced a new conductor, Andrew Brunson, a student and teaching intern from Boston University, to conduct "The Fortress". Soloists included Joseph Carpenito (trumpet), Christopher Ting (alto saxophone) and Jill McElligott (flute). This Rep Band, comprised of freshmen and sophomores, "played with a bold confidence well beyond their years," said Dentino.
It was Mr. Dentino's night to shine. His joy at making his Symphony Hall debut was evident. Even the reserved Japanese conductors, Masato Shibukawa, Mitsuo Sugimura and Hisao Yoneya got caught up in Dentino's excitement when he invited them to share final bows at the podium.
There was ample reason for Dentino to be proud. He succeeded in what many thought would be impossible; filling Symphony Hall with a high school event. He has been dreaming about this concert for several years, along with Dr. Thomas Curtin, the evening's Master of Ceremonies, who is a guidance counselor at the high school and a director of the Massachusetts-Hokkaido Association. This was, of course, more than a high school event, and it attracted several dignitaries, including the Consul General of Japan, Masuo Nishibayashi, as well as many from the Japan Society of Boston and the Massachusetts-Hokkaido Association. When asked if it met expectations on both sides of the Pacific, Dr. Curtin replied, "Beyond our wildest dreams!"
This was also far more than an evening of wonderful music. It was an educational and cross-cultural opportunity for the students, teachers, and parents who worked together to make this happen. "One of the things we try to do as educators is broaden our students' view of the world and their place in it. It's through their personal connections that they form their opinions and ideas of the world," said Arthur Dulong, Principal of Concord-Carlisle High School. "I am so proud to be associated with this group of students and of how well they represented our school and our community. The music they produced was just extraordinary. This is the kind of thing the people of Concord are going to be talking about ten years from now."
Carlisle School band director Tom O'Halloran responsed exuberantly, "It was a wonderful night. It shows once again that music is a great connector. It transcsends the language barrier." O'Halloran was thoroughly impressed with how much time (18 hours per week) the Japanese students give to their music.
As the students said their tearful farewells early Saturday morning, they were already looking forward to April when they will play together again, this time in Sapporo's Katara Hall.
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito