They had four categories: chamber groups and concert bands in the afternoon, and the show we saw: symphonic orchestras and jazz bands, in the evening.
But what were we getting into?
As it turned out, these are the premier high school instrumental ensembles in the Auckland region. Generally from the fanciest private schools. They’d been in an intensive week-long festival/workshop, and this concert was the finale. Almost 4,000 kids in all over the course of the week.
The first group up, an all-girl orchestra, launched into a Pops rendition of I Could Have Danced All Night, complete with vocalist. But the vocalist was not the teacher or some Julie Andrews wannabe mom, no indeed, it was a pair of girls much too young and small to have pipes like that. Brought tears to our eyes they were so good and so unexpected.
From there, we went on through three more orchestras and five jazz bands. Kudos to the stage crew.
There were some pieces that were too ambitious for the kids (sorry, Maestro Shostakovich, they sawed your Festive Overture into ribbons), but some that really worked (Sviridov’s Romance is technically simple and emotionally powerful, so an easy win, and Haydn’s Toy Symphony –complete with silly chicken whistles – had the entire audience and half the players doubled over with laughter). I expect to see Ianetta Solomon-Brown, who channeled Nina Simone for “Feeling Good,” on The Voice some day soon. However, the boy who tried to do Harry Connick Jr. won’t make it much past his fraternity talent show.
We sat next to a music teacher who brought a group to the festival for the first time this year, but wasn’t included in the concert. We agreed at being amazed at the amount of youthful talent on the progr. He struck me as the kind of teacher you’d remember in later life, and there were a few more of those up conducting. I suppose there are lots of things that teachers aspire to, but being “that teacher” for some of the little snots must be up there. Thank you Mr. Garden, Mrs. Roshko, Mr. Coday.
All in all, a wonderful evening, leaving us filled with equal parts good music and hope for the future.