Tartan Musicians Take the Stage at Spring Music Concerts

The spring music concerts took place on the Hurlbut Theater stage over three nights.
St. Margaret’s Upper School and Middle School musicians took to the stage last week, as the spring music concerts took place on the Hurlbut Theater stage over three nights.

Spring Band Concert 

The Arts at St. Margaret’s held the 2024 Spring Band Concert in the Hurlbut Theater last week. The concert included 115 student performers from Middle and Upper School under the direction of Chris Carbajal, band director. The evening opened with Grades 8-12 Concert Band’s “Afterburn” before Grades 6-7 Middle School Band performed three pieces. The audience enjoyed when Mr. Carbajal conducted the Middle School band’s “Star Wars” Main Theme using a lightsaber. The jazz ensemble took the stage, including orchestra director Linling Hsu on bass drum for the first time ever and vocalist Sophia Kistler ‘24 performing a piece in Tagalog, “Dahil Sa Iyo” with piano accompaniment by Martin Turnbull ‘26. 
The Concert Band returned to the stage for three more pieces before the debut of the grades 8-12 Sax Choir. Mr. Carbajal explained that every type of saxophone is represented between his baritone sax and the 10 students from Thalia Hamidi on the soprano saxophone to Aidan McMahon on Tenor Sax. To commemorate this choir of saxophones, they played his arrangement of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”
The evening concert drew to a close with the Concert Band’s dynamic “Pirates of the Caribbean” and the massed band ensemble’s finale. Mr. Carbajal thanked Gavin Shams ‘26 for the lighting and the technical support provided by Technical Director and Resident Designer Gordon Richins. He commended three Upper School students for having the courage to play in a band for the first time this year: Daniella Updegraph ‘26 on flute, Manny Vazquez Fernando ’27 on trumpet and Michelle Melo ‘25 on mallet percussion.

Spring Orchestra Concert 

The Arts at St. Margaret’s presented the 2024 Spring Orchestra Concert in the Hurlbut Theater last week. This concert featured 70 orchestra students from grades 6 to 12 and included captivating performances of classic pieces. The evening began with Grade 6 Middle School Orchestra performing “Can-Can” and “Danza Africana.” The Middle School musicians were joined by eight invited Lower School students for these pieces.
The grade 7 Orchestra took to the stage for a Mexican folk song, “Baile de Lila.” This piece featured Alex Rojas ’28 on the guitarron, Rani Mirchandaney and Aviva Wang on guitar and Philip Pflueger on piano. The orchestra also performed an amazing rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” with crystalline final notes from violinist Ivan Zhang ’30, and concluded with all grade 6 and 7 orchestra students performing the whimsical “Linus and Lucy” jazz classic.
Grade 9 musicians Kenji Kothari and Chris Tang performed “Prelude for Cello and Viola” before senior trio, Leo Kitaen, Sally Chow and Ava Meeks’ “Danse Macabre.”
The grades 8-12 Orchestra and Orchestra Honors took to the stage with a masterful rendition of “La Cascara,” an Afro-Cuban-inspired piece with a complex time signature. Other pieces included “Themes from the New World Symphony” by Dvorak, “Pavane” by Faure, and “Theme from Symphony No. 1” by Mahler.
As the screen projector was lowered above the stage, Ms. Linling Hsu, Orchestra Director, explained that the next piece would be the first multimedia collaboration between the orchestra and cinematic arts department at St. Margaret’s. The orchestra ensemble would be playing live music to the video of movie clips expertly assembled by cinematic arts teacher Karen Bennett. Ms. Hsu explained that the audience would be viewing edited clips from the 2016 movie, La La Land which won numerous awards, including best original score while the orchestra performed a medley of varied songs from the movie. After Ms. Bennett enjoyed the performance, she said, “It was really amazing to sit in the audience and watch it happen. I am so excited that Ms. Hsu was able to juggle all of it with the orchestra. Conducting to punches and streamers is not easy, and I’m really grateful that she took the time and worked so hard to get this project off the ground!”
As the grand finale, Ms. Hsu welcomed arts colleagues Ms. Bennett (French horn), Lex Leigh (percussion) and Chris Carbajal, band director, (soprano sax) and many Upper School band students on winds, brass and percussion parts to commemorate the 100th year of Gershwin's iconic "Rhapsody in Blue." She introduced pianist Richard Feng ‘26, providing some highlights of his extremely impressive musical accomplishments. 

Spring Choir Concert 

The Arts presented the Middle School and Upper School Spring Choral Concert last week in the Hurlbut Theater. This concert featured 90 vocalists in both divisions and was led by All-School Choral Director Adela Kwan with accompaniment by Lex Leigh. The concert opened with all of the performers singing “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent. Drummer Griffin Illenberger ’27 and guitarists Jimmy Beall and Daniel Filippi provided accompaniment in the first of many pieces throughout the concert. Soprano Tessa Maryott ’25 delivered a solo performance of “Light in the Piazza.” The grade 7 Tartan Honor Chorale began the Middle School portion of the program with Yumi Yeh and Gabriella Guillena singing the opening lines to “People’s Song” from Les Miserables. The combined grade 6 and 7 choir, consisting of 64 vocalists, sang in solfege for the piece, “Bolero” and harmonized adeptly in the Queen classic, “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
The Highlander Men’s Chorale presented “The Longest Time” by Billy Joel. They were followed by the Highlander Chorale’s five songs spanning lyrics in different languages, such as Latin and French, and genres from classical in Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus” to Toto’s soft rock in “Africa.” Ms. Kwan turned the directorial duties over to Greta Blau ’25 who led an ensemble of seven female voices in “See the Light”. Elaine Chen ’27 sang a solo French aria, “Du Gai Solei.” Kameron Mehr ’27 played cajon in “Baba Yetu”, a Swahili adaptation of The Lord’s Prayer, which was a crowd favorite. Another highlight of the night was “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman. 
According to Director of the Performing Arts Dan Pacheco, “The choral concert was beautiful. The love was felt all around, and audience members were left teary eyed.”
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