Maine South concerts share sounds of the season
SophomoreTrevor Ross plays his violin during a Dec. 6 rehearsal for the Maine South Holiday Concert. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 13, 2012 3:04PM
PARK RIDGE — Park Ridge is not yet a winter wonderland, but local students are singing the season’s praises anyway.
The Maine South High School Fine Arts Department will present its annual holiday concert series on Sunday, Dec. 16 in the school auditorium, 1111 S. Dee Rd.
Student choral groups and instrumental ensembles will give two unique shows at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza. Classics like “Silent Night” and “Deck the Halls” will be accompanied by playful tunes like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Non-holiday music will also be performed.
Director of Orchestras Rebecca Oppenheim said she likes to include pieces that are both interesting for the ensembles and enjoyable for listeners. For example, the chamber orchestra’s rendition of “Mountain Spring” mimics the style of high-energy entertainers Barrage. Featuring alternative strings, an amplified guitar, solos, and lots of movement, the performance “is not what you typically expect of string players,” Oppenheim said.
“Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis,” composed by Ralph Vaughn Williams, is one of the student symphony orchestra’s more complex numbers this year. The difficult, yet rich piece calls for two ensembles and a string quartet, which is not typical of orchestra literature, Oppenheim said.
“Everybody is doing different things at the same time,” she said. “It pushes the kids to listen and watch.”
Oppenheim said she like to challenge young musicians for future experiences through exposure to advanced literature.
“Some professional orchestras perform this,” she said of “Fantasia.” “This is like literature that, at sometime, some students will play again.”
The students are, in fact, expected to perform again later in the week. The Vocal Jazz Ensemble is scheduled to sing holiday tunes during a morning news broadcast of a local TV network, Oppenheim said. The Midwest Clinic, the world’s largest instrumental music education conference, also invited Maine South to play the Tallis “Fantasia” at McCormick Place on Dec. 20.
Oppenheim said concerts and other live performances help students develop skills that are applicable to many areas of life: speaking in public, interviewing for a job or lecturing to a group.
“These are young adults and we’re supposed to give them a little toolbox for the world,” Oppenheim said. “Performing in front of a live audience can be a scary thing and it may not always go as planned.”
Yet mistakes are part of life. Handling oneself with composure and professionalism when things go wrong are learned skills, she said.
“I always tell them that if they make a mistake to embrace it and own it,” she said.
The free concerts on Dec. 16 are open to public and donations will be accepted.
Performing at 2 p.m. are Glee, Mixed Chorus, Decibelles, FunkaFellas, Concert Orchestra, Intermediate Orchestra, String Orchestra, Concert Band and Symphonic Band. Performing in the 5 p.m. show are Concert Choir, Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Chamber Choir, Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra and Wind Ensemble.