Peet music department wrapping up this years learning with final concerts

As the school year comes to an end, the Peet music department is wrapping up with their last concerts this month. This includes orchestra, choir and band.

The first of these concerts is the orchestra. On Friday, May 9 at 7p.m. at Holmes the seventh and eighth grade orchestra will be performing “Finale From Symphony No. 5,” “Chasing the Storm” and “Pirates Of The Caribbean.” The ninth graders will be performing “Folk Tune and Fiddle Dance,” “Libertango” and “Danse Negre.” All of these pieces are being conducted by orchestra teacher Bradley Affolter.

He said, “I am quite excited for our last concert of the year. The last concert really serves as a showcase of all the learning we have done over the last year. While it is sad to conduct my ninth graders for the last time before they move on to high school orchestra, it is also cool to see them grow and interact with music and a new teacher as they continue their musical education.”

These orchestras have been challenged a lot this year with many difficult pieces skillswise but also stylewise. Affolter said, “The seventh and eighth grade group has better intonation and plays harder music than they did at the beginning of the year. A large part of seventh and eighth grade orchestra is improving on essential string fundamentals rather than learning new techniques all the time. This year we focused the most on pitch matching and making adjustments when you hear them. The ninth grade group has grown more as individual performers. Performance is much harder with a smaller musical ensemble, and this year’s 9th grade group has only 14 students. When there are this few members in the group, you can truly hear every member play, which in turn means every student has to reach a similar level of performance that you won’t typically see in larger groups. One of the benefits of this smaller group experience is they will have an easier time next year in high school in a larger group performance setting.”

The next concert after that is the choir concert on Monday, May 20. This will start at 7 p.m. at Peet. Carter Shaull is conducting all four choirs: melodies, treble choir, bass choir and the ninth grade choir. 

Melodies is a smaller choir that students can audition for and outside of their choir class learn a variety of different songs to perform at the start of the choir concerts. Melodies is kicking off this concert with “Star-Spangled Banner,” “Hush! Somebody’s Calling My Name,” “Gartan Mother’s Lullaby” and “It Had To Be You & You Made Me Love You.” Next the treble choir will perform “Homeward Bound” and “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair.” Then the bass choir will sing “This Old Hammer” and “This Boy.” Last but not least, the ninth grade choir will perform, “How Can I Keep From Singing?” and “Lost In The Woods.”

This will be Shaull’s last concert at Peet. He has made a big impact on the students he has taught here since he started. He said, “The biggest and most notable improvement for all the groups is how much more confident they have become across this year’s concerts. They are much more timid at the beginning of the year.” 

Last but not least, the band concert is on Thursday, May 23 at Peet at 7 p.m.  Eric Lins is conducting the seventh grade band while Ben Byersdorfer is conducting the eighth grade band and the ninth grade band. 

The seventh grade band will be performing “Metalheads” and “Bazaar.” Lins said, “These are more programmatic works that are written about a place or event and designed to evoke a certain type of mood or feeling based on the subject. Our May concert is a great time to play some lighter selections that are different than the music we have played through the rest of the year.” 

The eighth grade band will be performing “Simple Gifts,” which is a slow flowing song to start this section of the concert and ending with “South Hampton March” which is an American march. The ninth grade band will be performing a four and a half minute piece named “Moscow 1941.” Byersdorfer said, “It (Moscow 1941) depicted a lot of the turning points in World War Two and had a lot of great energy.”

Lins said, “This is one of my favorite concerts of the year. It is so much fun seeing the amount of growth the group has made throughout the year and being able to showcase the students’ musicianship in such a fun way. Concerts always feel like a big celebration. Every chair is full, and family and community members always stick around afterward talking and enjoying the evening. It is a great culture of music and community.”

The last concert of the year is favored by many directors as they can really see how their students have improved over the school year. Byersdorfer said, “The May concert is special because I think of the freshman class every May and think about how far they’ve come in three years. The freshman class is very talented in athletics, fine arts and academics. The ninth graders this year, we’re going to miss the leadership, we’re going to miss the dedication, we’re going to miss the impact that the whole class has made to the school. It’s really strong impact all the way around. So, we use that May concert as a farewell to the freshman class and as something to look forward to for the 7th and 8ths graders to take on that role of leadership and example that the Freshman class has done so well.”

Peet has such a special environment compared to other schools music wise. Byersdorfer said, “I love the climate in this whole hallway—the band, orchestra, and choir hallway. It feels like one family. It feels like we share all the kids and all the abilities and all the talents, and I feel like the strongest attribute of our music is how closely knit all three of our music programs are. I think that’s rare to see in schools, but at Peet I feel like we have this huge population of musicians that all are aiming at the same goal, to improve and to polish their craft.”

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