by Sam Leitch, editor
As Maria Carrillo High School band director Matt Bringedahl welcomed the audience to the 2020 Winter Concert, it was clear that this was no typical concert by any means: for one, Bringedahl stitched every recording together using Soundtrap, and the performances were streamed through YouTube. However, it was still a resounding success–and despite hundreds of people attending, everyone had the best seats in the house.
The concert began with a rendition of “Tenor Madness” played by Jazz Combo 1, and much like the name suggests, the tenor saxophone was on full display in this joyful, rhythmic number. As the song progressed, a slideshow documenting each member’s musical experience and favorite bands accompanied the audio. It was impressive to witness the passion and practice each musician displayed in their biographies.
Next up was Concert Band’s performance of “Russian Folk Fantasy (1992),” which sophomore Ashley Busienei said “celebrates the rich culture and heritage of the Russian people” in the piece’s video introduction. At first glance, the slow, morose brass and woodwinds deviated from the combo band’s upbeat tone. However, once the piece neared its culmination, the tone shifted with a flurry of exuberant staccato perfect for a jumping Russian dance, all while the flute section sailed gracefully overhead.
While this was unlike a typical concert, it was entertaining to see Concert Band’s instruments up close in such detail. My room is no auditorium, but I enjoyed listening because of how Bringedahl stitched the parts together to create a coherent piece. I also doubt I’ve ever heard flutes so clearly.
The concert continued to shift between smaller jazz groups and larger ensembles, and soon came Symphonic Band’s “The Golden Star March,” which senior Ella Peirce explained was composed “to honor the Roosevelts” and “as a lament for those who died during World War I.” In fact, the piece was so mournful that composer John Philip Sousa removed it from his band’s lineup, and that sorrowful tone quickly became apparent.
I think Orchestra’s “Brandenburg Concerto No. 3,” which was characterized by its grandiose array of string instruments, was the most fun to watch by far; as the musicians played on, the grid of video feeds was rife with motion.
As the concert neared a close, Jazz Combo 5 played “Sandu.” I found this rendition to be especially impressive with its complex, rapid notes. Of course, this makes sense given the combined expertise of the group. Each instrument came together for a solo of the same motif, and each musician shined in their performance.
Last came Symphonic Band’s “Molly on the Shore,” which senior Kaylee Laird introduced by highlighting its “pulsing rhythm” and “drastic dynamic motion.” Although I initially had no idea what these terms meant, I was surprised by the different moving parts; while “Sandu” focused on more individual performances, “Molly on the Shore” made use of the larger ensemble with its many fast-paced, interlocking parts. Soon, as the song mounted in volume and the drums resounded in the background, I finally understood what “drastic dynamic motion” meant: The band swiftly transitioned between highs and lows, making for an appealing listening experience.
If you would like to listen to the concert yourself, the video can be found here, and should the mood strike, you can support the band department through the QR codes at the end of the concert.