On Friday, June 6, 2014, the Mount Pleasant Middle School Select Chorus, Chamber Orchestra, and Jazz Band took part in the High Note Music Festival in Freehold, NJ, at Six Flags. The performances by each MPM musical group earned "Superior" marks--the highest given by the event judges.
High marks were given by the judges for Tone Quality, Technique and Balance among voice parts. Quotes include: "Wonderful balance and blend", "Lovely tone quality," and "Fine vocal technique being taught."
Judges scored the Chamber Orchestra high marks out of 100 possible points. Comments by the judges included: "One of the finest!!", "Your kids should be very happy and proud of the way they play.", "Very, very mature playing!!" , "What a great sound. Wonderful work by the conductor. Excellent!!"
Mrs. Vatoci, orchestra teacher, commented after the performance: "They were awesome." The Chamber Orchestra performed Burst! composed by Brian Balmages and Palladio composed by Karl Jenkins and arranged by Robert Longfield.
The Jazz Band began their portion of the performance with Blues in the Closet, a blues by Oscar Pettiford, featuring improvised solos by band members. They followed with Simon and Mark’s All of Me, a swing style selection from what is known as, "The Great American Songbook" - songs that have become standard repertoire for jazz musicians.
The band closed with a funk-rock style arrangement entitled, Maximum Velocity, by Russ Michaels, which featured improvised solos alternating with punchy horn lines. The judges could not believe that they were listening to a sixth-grade jazz band!
Band Salutes Guest Conductor
The LHS Band was honored at their spring concert on May 1 to feature guest conductor, Senior Master Sergeant Robert Thurston, the chief composer-arranger for the United States Air Force Band. His work with Livingston High School students was a valuable experience for band members. "When students have the opportunity to get insights directly from the composer of a work they are playing they gain a new perspective on their whole approach to that work," said Michael Jedwabnik, the Director of Bands at LHS.
The guest conductor said he was impressed with the level of professionalism the students displayed. He is shown during an afternoon informal rehearsal with students.
Tunes in Bloom
The Livingston High School Music Department will present two Spring Concerts.
The LHS Orchestra/Chorus Concert will take place on Tuesday, April 29, at 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium, and will feature the String Orchestra, Chamber Singers, Notations, Voicemales, Chamber Orchestra, and Concert Chorus. They will be performing selections written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Leroy Anderson, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Harold Arlen, The Beatles, Rodgers and Hammerstein, among many others.
Livingston High School students performed with the Essex County Honor Band on April 2, from left, Steve Un, Jason Kim, Julie Zedeck, Sam Vasilyev, Audrey Kim,Jonathan Kalman, Jihoon Choi, Jocelyn Wang, Owen Leong, Kevin Peng. Not pictured are Marvin Meng and Brian Luster. The Honor Band is a large symphonic band comprised of more than 100 of the finest high school student musicians in Essex County.
All That Jazz
The 10th annual District Jazz Festival will be 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 9 showcasing the Mt. Pleasant Middle 6th grade Jazz Band, Heritage 7th grade Jazz Band, Heritage 8th grade Jazz Band, and both LHS Jazz Bands. The event closes out with all the jazz bands on stage play a song together.
The Livingston High School Lancer Jazz Band will be performing at Rutgers University in the Nicholas Center on Tuesday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. LHS musicians are opening the concert for the top Rutgers Jazz Band. The Lancer Jazz Band will also play a piece with the Rutgers Jazz Band and the guest artist, Brazilian jazz guitarist Jose Neto. The LHS students will also be having a Master Class with the Rutgers Jazz faculty and the guest artist before the concert.
Jazz Studies at Mt. Pleasant Middle School
The Jazz Band at Mt. Pleasant Middle School performed for the Livingston Board of Education at the March 10 meeting at the school. For the sixth graders, this was the first time playing jazz before an audience, selecting "Blues in the Closet" by Oscar Pettiford for their debut. The ensemble is directed by Stafford Horne, who taught the classic tune by ear. Students traded solos, with Gene Lu on clarinet; Ryan Lee, violin; Andrew Chen, piano; and Preston Xu on trumpet.
Heritage Musicians Selected for Orchestra
Heritage Middle School will have four students participating in the Junior High School Orchestra Festival, from left, 8th graders Emily Wong (viola), Vivian Lin (violin), Christie Hung (violin), and 7th grader Jennifer Zheng (violin). The students were selected for the North Jersey Region 1 Orchestra following an audition process with more than 100 students vying for the opportunity to rehearse and perform with this select symphonic group.
Strike Up the Band
After auditions for the best middle school musicians in North Jersey, five Heritage students have qualified for the Junior Region Concert Band. From left, seventh graders Jeff Xu (clarinet), Alex Wu (clarinet) and Derek Wand (oboe), with eighth graders Jessica Rossilli (baritone sax) and Camillo Lin (clarinet) will rehearse in preparation for Region Concert Band performance on March 23 presented by the North Jersey School Music Association. The students study with Heritage music teachers Michael Miskiv and Dan Traglia.
Music of the Holocaust
LHS students explored the repertoire of works heard in the daily life under Nazism when members of the school’s orchestra performed music of the Holocaust in a special collaboration with the Holocaust and Genocide class offered at Livingston High School.
Music is part of the curriculum of the class taught by Jill Tejeda as the repertoire played an integral role in daily life. She teamed with Nancy Ciminnisi, the orchestra’s director, in presenting the program of music, performed by students for students.
Students learned that music was heard in many ghettos, concentration camps, and partisan outposts of Nazi-controlled Europe. The music maintained the image of high German culture amid the brutality, Tejeda said
Students appreciated the offerings. “The music is truly impressive,” said Zachary Picon, a senior. “It’s ironic because the music is so beautiful but the story is so rough.”
Performing with Queen Latifah...
It’s already the most-watched event in America, but between this being New Jersey’s first Super Bowl, the ads and the game itself, we can give you another good reason to tune into the Super Bowl, at 6:14 p.m. to be exact.
That’s when Queen Latifah will sing “America the Beautiful” as part of the televised Super Bowl pregame show with, get this, three LHS students singing with her.
“I was speechless when I heard,” said Irena Chiang, who performs with the New Jersey Youth Chorus with fellow Livingston High School students Isha Battu and Robin Shafto. “My mind is still blown away.”
The students sing with the New Jersey Youth Chorus, an auditioned choral program that caught the ear of Queen Latifah. She invited the 60-member choir to join her in song at MetLife Stadium. For the Livingston students, it will be a full weekend of festivities, with a dress rehearsal at MetLife, and performance on the “Super Bowl Boulevard," where they perform a 30-minute concert Friday at 7:30 p.m. on the stage in New York’s Times Square.
“I’m ecstatic for Sunday,” said Chiang. “And Queen Latifah, come on!”
Music to Their Ears
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When your principal is a musician, it’s no surprise that a concert is an all-school celebration of student learning. It’s also no surprise that the students' favorite songs are those about snow and snow days off from school. That’s what we found at Collins Elementary, where students performed for their peers in a final rehearsal before their big show. At Collins, and every elementary school, it is winter concert season, where the repertoire includes popular band and orchestra pieces, and choirs singing jazzy snowman tunes to warm a winter’s night.
Student Musicians Tune Up for Concerts to Warm Cold, Winter nights.
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Livingston's student musicians are fine-tuning their performances for a series of winter concerts.
The LHS Orchestra/Chorus concert will take place on Tuesday evening, December 17 at 7:30 pm in the High School auditorium, and will feature the String Orchestra, Chamber Singers, Notations, Voicemales, Chamber Orchestra, and Concert Chorus. They will be performing Haydn, Schubert, Vivaldi, Sondheim, Billy Joel, among many others. (The Notations are pictured in rehearsal at right).
The LHS Band Concert will be 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 19.
The Heritage Music Department will present its band in a Winter Concert at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 18 at the Heritage auditorium. (Our slideshow photos are the 7th Grade band in rehearsal).