Tuning in for the Holidays

Filling to the brim, Temple City High School’s annual Holiday Strings Concert saw packed crowds and parents, eager to listen to critically acclaimed music performing groups.

Every December, the high school hosts a Christmas concert of various musical pieces, ranging from classical holiday tunes to traditional orchestral arrangements. Three different groups, separated by age and level, perform handpicked music for all to enjoy.

Opening the concert, the Advanced Orchestra, led by Mr. Bert Ferntheil, sang out four diverse pieces. Created solely from incoming ninth graders, the ensemble began with two classical pieces. Ninette at Court, by Louis Saint-Almans, featured a marvelous balance between instruments, while Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings sent the air humming. Ukranian Carol and Feliz Navidad ended the Advanced Orchestra’s performance with cheers.

Tailing the Advanced group, a purely ninth grade ensemble, led by Mr. Phil Bailey, drew upon cartoon influences for musical inspiration. Hard bass beats bopped from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and a medley of nostalgia rose from a rendition of “The Little Mermaid’s” various themes. Completing their performance was “A Day at Disneyland”, highlighting multiple Disney pieces.

Ending the concert, the Honors Orchestra, whose members must audition to enter, began with Christmas specials (Let It Snow!, Joy to the World), finished under the direction of Mr. Bert Ferntheil. The famous “Music of the Night”, from Phantom of the Opera, drew tears in audience members as soloist Jason Wu rolled chords. However, soloist Joan Kim incited a standing ovation with her “Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor”, a demanding piece brimming with octave chords and pacing sixteenth notes, ending the concert with a bang.

All of the Temple City High School orchestras have received a “Superior,” which is the highest, ranking from the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association.

The Honors Orchestra, which has played at venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, will perform for the annual Holiday Concert next week at the San Gabriel Civic Center next week.


This article was written by Randy Shun. It was published in the Temple City Voice on December 10, 2008.


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