The floor in the main gymnasium at Bridgewater-Raritan High School was transformed into an orchestra pit that produced powerful but soft and elegant sounds of music.
This was the performance that was enjoyed by the audience who sat through another memorable show during The Festival of Arts 2023, sponsored by the Fine and Performing Arts Department of the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District.
The Orchestra Concert on Wednesday, March 29, was the second of three performances delivered by the gifted students in the school district. The third and final evening performance is the Band Concert that is scheduled to be held on Thursday, March 30.
The Festival of Arts 2023 was launched by the Chorus Concert on Thursday, March 23. All of the events were held in the high school gym, a venue that could accommodate the overflow crowds.
Matt McCarthy, who is going to complete his first month in his role as the Supervisor of the high-profile Fine and Performing Arts Department In the school district, kicked off the Orchestra Concert with an introduction statement.
“Studies have shown that the complexity and nuance of orchestral compositions can improve cognitive function and lower blood pressure. So it’s good for our heads and our hearts,” Mr. McCarthy said.
Once the high school’s Symphony Orchestra performed a beautiful verse of The Star Spangled Banner, the music generated by the orchestras that covered Grades 6-12 in the school district were extremely well received by the heads and hearts of the captivated audience.
The crowd included the person who has coordinated the Festival of Arts, Dr. Laura Bassett, the former Supervisor of the Fine and Performing Arts Department and who is now the Principal at the Eisenhower Intermediate School.
Eisenhower and its sister-school, Hillside Intermediate School, teamed to form the 6th Grade Orchestra that was conducted by Thomas Pepitone, a teacher at Eisenhower who is the Orchestra Director for both schools.
That unit performed a fine rendition of Exhilaration by Cooper Ford.
The Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School 7th Grade Orchestra, under its director, Catherine Butler, played Toccatina by William Hofeldt.
“I was incredibly proud of how hard the students worked,” Ms. Butler said. “Even in the last couple weeks since our Middle School Orchestra Festival, they have grown in confidence and ability to play through our piece. We are looking forward to applying this to other pieces and having a great spring concert in May!”
The high school’s Ninth Orchestra followed in the lineup and played under its director, Ms. Hsiao-yu Lin Griggs, The Emerald Falcon by Richard Meyer.
The 8th Grade Orchestra from the middle school then performed Kilimanjaro by Alan Lee Silvai.
“It was amazing to have the orchestra students from grades 6-12 showcase their musicianship for each other and for the community at the district Fine Arts Festival Orchestra Concert,” said Ms. Maria Ramsay, who is the 8th Grade Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra Director.
The high school’s Concert Orchestra then played Lion City by Soon Hee Newbold, followed by the Chamber Orchestra from the middle school that performed Fire Dance, also written by Soon Hee Newbold.
“The level the students ultimately perform at once they reach the high school level never ceases to astound me,” Ms. Ramsay said. “However, every group played passionately and with artistry. The 8th Grade and Chamber Orchestras put on a truly beautiful performance and I am particularly proud of what they have accomplished this school year as individuals and as an ensemble.”
The memorable evening was capped by the high school’s Symphony Orchestra that produced a fine rendition of a sweet version of Symphony No. 4 IV. Finale. Allegro con fuoco by the famed composer, Pyotr IIlich Tchaikovsky.
"All ensembles sounded amazing! The Intermediate and Middle School students played wonderfully, and I am especially proud of the High School ensembles. I know how hard they worked leading up to the concert, and they gave me their heart and soul on Wednesday night!! Thank you BRHS musicians! You made me proud!!" Ms. Griggs said.
“What a sublime evening of music I’m so proud of the hard work and talent of our students” Mr. McCarthy concluded.